The Lyrid meteor shower peaks on holiday; know how to see

The Layrid meteor shower, the first of the year, will reach its climax at dawn on the 22nd, Thursday. Although it is rain of medium intensity, it can surprise at a rate of 10 to 12 “meteors” per hour, according to forecasts, depending on your location and weather conditions.

About Lyrid . meteor shower

Lyrids consist of dust and debris that comes from Comet Thatcher, which passes through Earth’s orbit once every 415 years. When our planet crosses the path of this comet, the fragments left behind end up passing through our atmosphere.

As Comet Thatcher orbits the Sun, it leaves a trail of dust debris that enters Earth’s atmosphere (Image: Reproduction/Bob King)

When they fall to the ground, the debris burns up due to friction and appears in the sky in the form of what we call “falling stars.” Before they have a chance to hit Earth, the meteors evaporate and disappear into thin air.

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There are very old records of the Lyrids, such as excerpts from the Chinese book of news Zuo Zhuan, from 687 B.C. There is also a record of Chinese astronomers that in 15 B.C., the Lyrids had an impressive event, probably because this rain could introduce what he calls Astronomers have a “blast”, that is, a momentary hyperactivity of the streams of meteors entering the atmosphere.

In 1982, American observers saw an outburst of approximately 100 meteors per hour. Unfortunately, this year’s outburst cannot be expected, but often such events are rather unexpected. In addition, about a quarter of lyre meteorites leave static traces, that is, long streaks of light that last for a few moments.

How to watch the Lyrid meteor shower

The radiation of the Larid meteor shower will be above the horizon towards the north, near the star Vega. This formation represents the early morning sky on April 22 at 3:00 a.m. (Image: Reproduction/Stellarium)

As is the case every year, the Líridas rain starts timidly on the 14th and lasts until April 30th. However, the most interesting days for viewing the celestial spectacle are the so-called “peaks”, that is, the moment when the rate of objects reaches its maximum.

The peaks usually only last one morning, but in the case of the Líridas, it’s worth trying to keep an eye out for the next night as well. For this it is sufficient to search for a place free from light pollution and clouds, such as areas far from large urban centers.

If you can’t get away from the city, you can also try your luck in your own backyard, as long as you are patient and can count on something comfortable, like a beach chair.

You will not need to use instruments – in fact, any magnification through binoculars or telescopes will significantly reduce your chances of finding a meteorite. On the other hand, if you want to take some pictures, make sure you have your gear ready in advance.

Although the peak begins at 1:00 a.m., the best time to start your observations is from 3:00 a.m., as this is when the radiation – the constellation Lyra – is slightly above the horizon, approaching 30 degrees. The higher the radiation in the sky, the higher the chances of observing meteors.

The Lyrid meteorite captured by the camera in 2015 (Image: Reproduction/Marshall Space Flight Center)

The forecast is for the peak hourly rate – ZHR, which indicates the number of meteors per hour in excellent conditions, if the radiation is at its height – 12 meteors. Therefore, at less than 30 degrees on the azimuth grid, we can expect an average of less than 10. Still, waiting for meteors on a quiet holiday night is a great experience for astronomy enthusiasts.

An ally to watch will be the star Vega, one of the brightest objects in the sky. As soon as it is slightly above the horizon, there is a chance of seeing a meteor. It will appear towards the northeast and will turn towards the north. It is not necessary to look at the beam, as meteors can appear anywhere in the sky – the radiation is just an indication of where things are appearing from.

Avoid using artificial lighting while observing: it will block your pupils and obstruct your vision in the dark. If you need to use your cell phone, for example, choose reading mode to get rid of the blue light. Also take the opportunity to observe the planetary alignment between Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, which is already happening.

Source: EarthSky

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