Friday, April 13, 2012

Good visibility for Lyrids 2012, 04.13.12

Did you ever sit at your window as a child and marvel at “shooting stars” as they streaked across the night sky? Those were actually meteors passing across Earth’s atmosphere. Sometimes, Earth passes through fields of debris in space that cause regular, predicted “showers” of meteors. In April, we have one such shower: the Lyrids.
(NASA/MSFC/Danielle Moser)

Named after the constellation Lyra, the harp (the meteors’ apparent radiant point, or origin), the meteor shower is caused by detritus left in the wake of Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher. Comets have a nasty habit of leaving trails of dust and ice be­hind them as they course through the sky. When Earth passes through the trails, the debris scrapes across the top of our atmosphere, glowing with the energy from the friction that is generated.
This year, the Lyrids meteor shower will take place next Satur­day evening, on the night of April 21-22. You can expect to see meteors from about 11:00pm until 5:00am. The Lyrids are al­ways very predictable, averaging about 15 meteors per hour. Peak hours could generate as many as 10-100 meteors per hour, though, according to NASA.
The moon will also be cooperating with us this year to offer the best show possible. Luna will be in her new phase around the 21st of April, so the skies will be much darker, making it easier to spot the tiny, brief streaks of light.
Do not be worried about where in the world you are at the time, either. As long as you are not surrounded by bright city lights and light pollution, you should be able to see the shower from anywhere in the world.
Read more at NASA.

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