After 3,5 months of weak meteor activity, the Earth enters the drawn-out dusty tail of Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1). Most years in April there are no more than 5 to 20 meteors per hour during the shower’s peak. But sometimes, when Earth glides through an unusually dense clump of comet debris, the rate increases. Sky watchers in 1982, for instance, counted 90 Lyrids per hour. What will the Lyrids do this year? The only way to know for sure is to go outside and look.
The average magnitude of the meteors is around 2.4 and the speed is described as rapid. About 15% of the meteors leave persistent trains with occasional fireballs a possibility. These “Lyrid fireballs” cast shadows for a split second and leave behind smokey debris trails that linger for minutes. This meteor shower generally begin on April 16 and end on April 26, with best viewing time after 2am on the 22nd April with a 2011 predicted peak at 1900hrs UT. The radiant is near the bright blue-white star Vega of the constellation Lyra.
The Lyrids are interesting for two reasons : First, observations have been identified back to at least 2600 years, which is longer than any other meteor shower. Second, the meteor shower occasionally experiences an outburst of about 100 meteors per hour and the reason is basically unknown.
Using a fish-eye lens covering the entire sky it should be able to catch some bright flashes. Audio recording with beeping systems can be broadcasted on this website. Contact us if you’re planning to set this up.
Some observers witnessed lunar imparts of meteors striking the lunar surface. A stationary broadcast of the Moon could result in witnessing a lunar meteoritic impact live! Check the link below for more information.
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