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Lyrid Meteor Shower 2015

A Geminid Meteor over Frosty Drew Observatory

A Geminid Meteor over Frosty Drew Observatory

During the early morning hours of Wednesday, April 22nd and Thursday, April 23rd the peak of the annual Lyrid Meteor Shower will taking place. Add in that the thin crescent Moon will set early in the evening on both nights and we are setup for perfect meteor watching conditions. Since this coming week (April 20 – 24) is also spring break for all Rhode Island public schools and many schools in Connecticut and Massachusetts, awesome opportunities await to catch a glimpse of a few shooting stars.

The Lyrid shower is one of the oldest recorded meteor showers, with recorded observations dating back to the year -686. Like most meteor showers, the Lyrids originate from the debris field left behind by a comet. In this case the comet responsible for the Lyrid shower is comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, which was discovered on April 5, 1861. Unlike some of the more known meteor showers of the year, the Lyrids only produce around 10-20 meteors per hour, though outbursts of 100 meteors per hour do happen and are difficult to predict. Lyrid meteors move fast, are bright, and are known to leave behind dust trails that are visible for several seconds after the meteors disperse.

Observing the meteor shower will be pie. Grab a reclining lawn chair or a blanket and lay on your back with your feet pointed towards the northeast. Comfortably look at the sky in front of you to spot passing meteors. Lyrid meteors will appear to radiate from a point just to the right of Vega, the super bright star in the constellation Lyra. If skies stay clear, we could be in for stunning views. Frosty Drew astronomers will be onsite for the Lyrid peak after midnight. So stop in, setup your spot, and catch a glimpse of the fabulous starscape with the occasional shooting star compliments of the Lyrids.

Scott MacNeill
Author:
Scott MacNeill
Entry Date:
Apr 21, 2015
Published Under:
Scott MacNeill's Columns
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