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Mon, 20 Apr 2015 - Midweek peak for the Lyrid meteor shower

Night time meteor rates are higher this week than for some time due to the activity of the Lyrid meteor shower.

This meteor shower is active each year and produces meteor whose paths when traced backwards appear to be coming from a small area of sky (the "radiant") near the constellation of Lyra. While not producing observed rates comparable with those of the Perseids, the Lyrids do increase meteor rates for around a week. The highest rates are likely to be seen late in the night of April 22-23 (Wed-Thurs).

Lyrid meteors can be seen at any time of the night, but the best observed rates occur when the radiant (marked on the accompanying chart) is highest in the sky late in the night.

The peak "ZHR" for the Lyrids is usually in the 15-20 range. However, you won't actually see that many Lyrids each hour. During the pre-midnight hours, from a reasonably dark observing location with a clear view of the sky, you may see 1 or 2 Lyrids per hour. Observed rates will be higher after midnight and in the pre-dawn hours of April 23rd, you may be seeing half a dozen or more Lyrid meteors per hour. From a very good observing site, the hourly rate could reach double figures. Alongside this activity, you may also see a few sporadic meteors each hour.

As always, don't look directly at the Lyrid radiant as any Lyrids that appear in that area of sky will be have short paths against the star background and so will be tricky to spot. To observe the best rates, look at an area of sky around 30 degrees from the radiant and at an elevation of around 50 degrees above the horizon.

Don't hold back your plans until the night of April 22-23. Currently the weather forecast is suggesting that there will be cloud over much of the UK that night. For most observers, it is likely that the best Lyrid rates of 2015 will be seen the night before (Tues-Wed), for which the UK weather forecast is currently more promising and the observed Lyrid rates should also be quite good.

And do remember to wrap up well. April nights can be quite chilly.

Further information about the Lyrids can be found at http://www.popastro.com/meteor/activity/activity.php?id_pag=310 .

 

Added by: Tracie Heywood