Irene Worthington Baron



The Lyrid meteor shower will peak tonight , 21 April 2012.  The constellation Lyra will rise in the north-northeast sky around eleven this evening.  The meteors will appear to radiate from a position above and to the right of the constellation.  They will be present before Lyra is visible to all of the northern hemisphere. The best viewing hours for most meteor showers is right after midnight when you should see up to twenty meteors per hour.  That’s when the Earth is rotating into the comet debris.  In the year 1982 there were bursts of 100-meteors during the Lyrids. 

The debris left behind by Comet Thatcher is the suspected cause of the Lyra meteors.   Since the Moon is near the sun with the dark side facing Earth, the sky will be darker.  That will make the viewing of the meteors easier.

Something new that might be fun for you is a meteor chat during the meteor shower. NASA is hosting an “All Night Chat” to talk about the Lyrid meteor shower from 11 pm EDT tonight to 5 am tomorrow, April 22nd. Connect at:

At that site will be a link for a live video feed of the shower. 

If you would like to volunteer to help count meteors and have a telephone that takes applications, download the application “Meteor Counter.”  You count meteors during the shower, recording how many you see, when you see them , and how bright they are.  Don’t worry, you let the application know if you’re an amateur or not.  At the end of your observations, your data is uploaded to a server for processing by NASA researchers.  Your observations “will become part of a global database of meteor counts and an authentic contribution to NASA research.”  The application gives you all the instructions you need. If you click on the "news" section of the application, it will tell you about future meteor showers in addition to giving your information about the current one.

If your weather is clear, take comfortable chairs or a blanket outside for yourself, family and friends.  Many observers include a grocery bag of popcorn and beverages to enjoy during the wait.  If you have a camera with a time exposure, set it up on a tripod aimed to the upper right of Lyra to capture some meteors on film.  Astronomers usually have a tree or recognizeable Earth object at the base of the photograph to give reference to the object/s captured on the image. Enjoy.

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