Tuesday 16 April 2019

The Lyrid Meteor Shower.

The Lyrid Meteors is expected to be visible between Friday 19 and Thursday 25 April this year, and will be at peak visibility on Tuesday 23 April in 2019. With the Full Moon also falling on Friday 19 April, the views of this shower will not be the best this year, as the brightness of the Moon tends to obscure dimmer objects. At its peak the Lyrid Meteor shower typically produces about 20 meteors per hour, though higher rates have been recorded.

Sky map showing the radiant point for the Lyrid Meteors (i.e. the point from which the meteors appear to radiate) on 23 April 2019. In the Sky.

The Lyrid Meteors are comprised of debris from the comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher (named after the astronomer A. E. Thatcher, not the politician). This is a long-period comet that spends most of its time in the Oort Cloud, only visiting the inner Solar System once every 415 years, the last occasion being in 1861. When the comet visits the inner Solar System it is heated by the Sun, melting the ices that make up its surface and releasing a trail of dust, which continues to follow the path of the comet. The Earth passes through this trail in April each year, creating a light show as the dust particles burn in the upper atmosphere which appears to radiate from the star Vega in the constellation of Lyra.  

 The orbit and current position of C/1861 G1 Thatcher. JPLSmall-Body Database Browser.

See also...

Follow Sciency Thoughts on Facebook.