This years Lyrids meteor shower lasts from April 16th to April 26th, peaking at about 11 UT on April 22nd. The 2012 event was a favourable one with peak activity occurring under moonless skies. However, this year we're not so fortunate; an 85% illuminated waxing gibbous Moon interferes but still it's well worth looking outside, weather permitting of course!
Unlike sporadic meteors that originate from anywhere in the sky, periodic shower meteors can always be traced back to the same part of the sky - the radiant point of the meteor shower. Therefore, spotting these shooting stars couldn't be easier…just focus on the radiant point…correct? Not quite. The problem is that although the meteors do originate from the radiant point, they streak across almost any part of the sky and are often seen tens of degrees from where the actual radiant is located! Therefore, good advice is to lie down on something like a reclining chair, look skywards and scan a large area of sky surrounding the radiant. Simply relax and enjoy the Lyrids meteor shower along with spring night sky.
The Lyrids radiant is located inside Hercules very near to the border with Lyra and only 6 degrees from the 5th brightest star in the sky, Vega (mag. 0.0). Normally, the Lyrids are a reasonably strong shower and in a good year you would expect to see around 15 to 20 or so meteors per hour under ideal conditions. With the Moon interfering this year the numbers will of course be less.
The best time of night to observe the meteor shower is around midnight or during the early hours of the morning. The Lyrid meteors are usually around magnitude +2, but there are occasional fireballs that streak through the sky, casting shadows for a short time and leaving a trail of dust and debris as they disintegrate in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Lyrids Meteor Shower Data Table
|Meteor shower name||Lyrids|
|Radiant Constellation||Hercules / Lyra border|
|Dates||16th April -> 26th April|
|Peak Date||22nd April|
|RA (J2000)||18hr 04m|
|Parent||C/1861 G1 Thatcher (comet)|