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Lyrid Meteor Shower April 2018

What have you got planned this evening? If your sky is clear, head outside and look up!

The April Lyrids are seen in late April each year, and are associated with Comet Thatcher of 1861. The meteors are generally swift, and many appear as brilliant streaks across the sky.The radiant of the meteor shower is located in the constellation Lyra, near this constellation's brightest star, Alpha Lyrae (Vega). The shower usually peaks around April 22 - 23. Counts typically range from 5 to 20 meteors per hour. April Lyrid meteors are usually around magnitude +2. However, some "Lyrid fireballs" can cast shadows for a split second, and leave behind smokey debris trails that last minutes.The source of the meteor shower is particles of dust shed by the long-period Comet C/1861 G1 (Thatcher).

The April Lyrids are the strongest annual shower of meteors from debris of a long-period comet, mainly because this one has a relatively short orbital period of about 415 years.

The Lyrids have been observed for the past 2600 years.Occasionally, the shower intensifies when the planets steer the dust trail of the comet into Earth's path, an event that happens about once every 60 years. In 1982, amateur astronomers counted 90 April Lyrids per hour at the peak; similar rates were seen in 1922. A stronger storm of up to 700 per hour occurred in 1803. Another such outburst, and the oldest known, the shower on March 23, 687 BC was recorded in Zuo Zhuan. It describes the shower as "at midnight, stars dropped down like rain".

You do not need any equipment to enjoy the Lyrids - no telescope, binoculars etc. Simply relax and enjoy the spectacle. We suggest getting some layers on to keep warm as the temperature will inevitably get cold after sunset. Try to get away from street lights and find a dark place, perhaps in your garden or nearby park. Remember a flask or nibbles, always make the experience fun!

Good luck and happy 'gazing!


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