Don’t Miss April’s Lyrid Meteor Shower
| April’s Lyrids Meteor Shower welcomes the best stargazing period of the year. They will be visible from ALL OVER THE WORLD, and no telescope needed. To view them is fun, its free and your eyes are all you need. Just find somewhere as far from light pollution as you can, and stare up at the sky. Meteors, or ‘shooting stars’ (if you’re so inclined. Although they are not in any way stars they are the debris and space dust from comets or asteroids, that are burning up upon entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.
Many cultures and ancient civilizations held beliefs as to the meaning of such events. Some African tribes have viewed them as a representation of a god.
The early Europeans viewed meteor showers as ominous, the harbingers of danger and destruction. Some also believed these atmospheric dust shows to be lucky, and grant wishes (a view that has carried on to this day.)
Here in the Southern Hemisphere, we experience six, sometimes seven highly visible meteor showers per year. The Lyrids is the main meteor shower in April. The Lyrids is active between the 16th and the 25th, with a peak around the 22nd. Its hourly rate typically reaches 10, but there was an outburst in 1982 when the meteor rate peaked briefly at 90 meteors/hour.
The Lyrids meteor shower — the remnants of Comet Thatcher and appears to radiate from between the constellation Lyra and Hercules. These meteors have the potential to be very dusty with bright tails that seem to hang in the air.
The Lyrids meteor shower is caused by the remnants of Comet Thatcher and appears to radiate from between the constellation Lyra and Hercules (hence the name.) Though they will be visible from the 16th the Lyrid shower averages 10-20 rather bright meteors per hour for us here, although higher number bursts have been recorded previously.
The shower is best visible from the morning of the 22nd. Locating the Lyra constellation can be done through a number of means. There are a number of free star map apps you can download (yay for technology!) If in doubt look eastward OK.
Alternatively you may have a star map lying around in old astronomy text books. There are also a number of websites that offer star maps and diagrams of the locations of both Lyra and Hercules, to assist you in navigating the night sky. When to look? Hmm, OK, this aint good unless you’re an insomniac like me…between Midnight and 4am. Sorry!
Meteor showers are best viewed outside the glare of lights from major cities. The darker the place, the better. It’s also a good idea to pack some snacks, a blanket, some seats and a thermos of hot chocolate (because in all honesty….why not?) It’s also worth mentioning that in addition to the shower Venus will be visible in the morning sky as well so its all there and waiting for you. Adapted: Weekend Notes