Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT!!!!! 4-21-12 Lyrid Meteor Shower

Hey Space Placers!

Tonight (4-21 to 4-22) will be the peak of the annual Lyrid Meteor Shower. Viewers in a dark location away from bright lights should see about a dozen meteors an hour. The Moon will be out of the sky and the peak is set for 1-2 a.m. on the 22nd, which favors North America. We will be clouded out for some much needed rain here in VA.

Look to the northeast at 10 p.m. to find bright Vega and use it as a guidepost to watch the for the meteors streaking across the sky. The meteor shower is called the Lyrids because the radiant, or the point in the sky from where the meteors appear to radiate from is in the constellation Lyra. Vega and the radiant will climb higher in the sky as the evening goes on and will be very high in the sky at the predicted peak time.

Sky map for Lyrid meteors

Sky and Telescope Magazine

As related by NASA, "Lyrid meteors come from Comet Thatcher.  Every year in late April Earth passes through a stream of debris from the old comet, which has been bringing Lyrid meteors to our planet for at least 2600 years.  Specks of Thatcher’s dust hit the top of atmosphere at 110,000 mph and disintegrate in a flurry of meteors."

NASA is trying to take the first ever 3D photographs of a meteor shower by combining images from amateurs, a weather balloon and from the International Space Station.

Good hunting!

Sky Guy in VA

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