Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lyrids meteor shower tomorrow

The Lyrids meteor shower, one of the better annual meteor showers, is predicted to begin tomorrow night and continue on through the 22nd of April. While the shower has been in progress since around the 16th of this month, it should reach its peak on the 22nd. Expect a medium-sized show, weather permitting, although you may have trouble seeing it due to the very bright, waning-gibbous moon.

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Bright and quick, these short-lived dust grains come from comet C/Thatcher, and enter our atmosphere at 29.8 miles per second. As they pass through the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere, the friction caused by their speed causes them to heat and burn up, causing their bright, visible streaks of light.

While the meteors may be spotted all over the night sky, the “radiant” (the spot to which they can all be traced) will be near the very bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra, in the northeastern sky. The best time to try and catch a glimpse of the meteors will be between 10:00 pm, when Lyra rises above the horizon, and the time when the moon rises into view.

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