Lyrids Meteor Shower

Lyrids
Active from April 16th to April 25th. Peak on 22/23 April.

The annual Lyrid meteor shower has begun. It’s active each year from about April 16 to 25. In 2017, the peak of this shower – which tends to come in a burst and usually lasts for less than a day – is expected to fall on the night of April 22/23, with little or no interference from the slender waning crescent moon. The greatest number of meteors usually fall during the few hours before dawn. You don’t need to look in a particular direction as meteors can appear all over the sky. Just get out, keep warm and LOK UP!

Comet Thatcher is the source of the Lyrid meteors. Every year, in the later part of April, our planet Earth crosses the orbital path of Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), of which there are no photographs due to its roughly a 415-year orbit around the sun. Comet Thatcher last visited the inner solar system in 1861, before the photographic process became widespread. This comet isn’t expected to return until the year 2276.

Bits and pieces shed by this comet litter its orbit and bombard the Earth’s upper atmosphere at 177,000 kilometers (110,000 miles) per hour. The vaporizing debris streaks the nighttime with medium-fast Lyrid meteors.

It’s when Earth passes through an unusually thick clump of comet rubble that an elevated number of meteors can be seen. (Source: Earthsky.org)

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