Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Prime Conditions for the Lyrid Meteor Shower This Weekend!

The new moon on Saturday will provide prime dark sky viewing conditions for the Lyrid Meteor Shower this weekend. That's good, since the Lyrid Meteor Shower tends to produce up to 20 meteors per hour, the best meteor shower of Spring, but not quite up to the activity levels of other showers from late Summer through the rest of the year. Don't be surprised though if activity levels are higher, flurries of activity as high as 90 per hour have been recorded.

As with all meteor showers, the recommended viewing hours are midnight through twilight, since your position on the earth will rotate over to the side of the earth leading through space, which intersects more more of the specks of dust and ice which produce the meteors. The radiant, or point in the sky which the meteors appear to come from, rises in the Northeast in the evening for people in the Northern hemisphere, so depending upon your position on the earth it may be more or less overhead and slightly north of you at midnight (a program like StarWalk running on a smartphone or tablet can show you the radiant point).

Find a place with dark skies, bundle up in a chair so you can lie back and see the sky, and check it out!

The photo above is a Lyrid meteor captured next to the Milky Way over the Bonneville Salt Flats near Salt Lake City, Utah.  For advice on how to capture still images like this at night, use the search box above to find my post on how to capture Milky Way images, and I wrote one on creating night timelapse videos as well.