Tonight's Sky
Sun
Sun
Moon
Moon
Mercury
Mercury
Venus
Venus
Mars
Mars
Jupiter
Jupiter
Saturn
Saturn

Tonight's Sky — Change location

OR

Searching...

Tonight's Sky — Select location

Tonight's Sky — Enter coordinates

° '
° '

Sky-event preview: The 2009 Lyrid meteor shower

The Lyrid meteor shower peaks April 22, and conditions favor a great display.
April 2009 Lyra finder chart
The Lyrid meteor shower peaks this year during the predawn hours of April 22. Observers under dark skies could see up to 20 meteors per hour.
Astronomy: Roen Kelly
The annual Lyrid meteor shower reaches its highest activity a few hours before dawn April 22. "The Lyrids peak just 2 days before New Moon, so conditions could hardly be better," says Astronomy magazine Senior Editor Rich Talcott. Observers under dark skies could see up to 20 meteors per hour.

Meteor showers offer everyone, not just avid amateur astronomers, a chance to witness a cosmic spectacle.

Named after the constellation from which the meteors appear to radiate, the annual Lyrid shower produces the bulk of April's meteors. The shower remains active between April 16 and 25. Astronomers predict the shower will peak in the predawn hours of April 22.

Lyra is easy to find because it's marked by the brilliant blue-white star Vega. Vega ranks fifth brightest of all nighttime stars.

It's best to view meteor showers without optical aid. Viewers should use just their eyes, so as not to restrict the field of view. Before midnight, face eastward, and look about halfway up. After midnight, looking overhead will probably net you the most meteors.

Lyrid rates vary from year to year, with the peak averaging around 20 meteors per hour under ideal conditions. More often than not, the highest level of activity lasts only a few hours. The radiant lies in the constellation Lyra, near its border with Hercules. Although this area rises before midnight, the best time to view the Lyrids comes in the 2 or 3 hours before dawn. As always, you'll see more meteors if you observe from a dark location.

Lyrid meteors are fast and average as bright as the Big Dipper's stars. These particles we see as meteors originated from Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1).

Meteor showers are great social and family events. Organize a group of skygazers, and head out of town to a dark location. Bring lawn chairs, sleeping bags, and hot drinks to stay warm. Plan to wear winter clothing — many observers are surprised at the chill of spring's late-night air.
StarDome
Additional meteor-shower observing resources from Astronomy.com
0

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Read and share your comments on this article
Comment on this article
Want to leave a comment?
Only registered members of Astronomy.com are allowed to comment on this article. Registration is FREE and only takes a couple minutes.

Login or Register now.
0 comments
ADVERTISEMENT

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Receive news, sky-event information, observing tips, and more from Astronomy's weekly email newsletter.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
BoxProductcovernov

Click here to receive a FREE e-Guide exclusively from Astronomy magazine.

Find us on Facebook

Loading...