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The 2015 annual Lyrids meteor shower peaks on April 22nd and this year's event promises to be a good one as the four-day-old waxing crescent Moon (21% illuminated) will not interfere. The Lyrids are not one of the strongest annual displays and the peak period is short but up to 20 meteors per hours can be seen. This include 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.

Radiant

The Lyrids radiant is located inside Hercules very near to the border with Lyra and only 6 degrees from the fifth brightest star in the sky, Vega (mag. 0.0). Unlike sporadic meteors that originate from anywhere in the sky, periodic shower meteors can always be traced back to the same region the radiant point of the meteor shower. Therefore, spotting these shooting stars could not be easier…..just focus on the radiant point? The answer is not so simple. The problem is that although the meteors do originate from the radiant point they can streak across almost any part of the sky! Therefore its best to scan a large area surrounding the radiant without directly looking at it.

The shower activity lasts from April 16th to April 26th with the best time to observe around midnight on the evening of April 22nd / 23rd.

Lyrids Radiant and Star Chart

Lyrids Radiant and Star Chart - pdf format

Lyrids Data Table 2015

Meteor shower nameLyrids
Meteor shower abbreviationLYR
Radiant constellationHercules / Lyra border
ActivityApril 16th -> April 26th
Peak DateApril 22nd
RA (J2000)18hr 04m
DEC (J2000)+34d
Speed (km/s)49
ZHR 20
RatingBright
Parent bodyC/1861 G1 Thatcher
NotesAlso known as Alpha Lyrids or April Lyrids meteor shower

Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher Data Table (at epoch May 25th, 1861)

NameC/1861 G1 Thatcher
TypeComet
ClassificationLong-period comet
DiscovererA. E. Thatcher
Discovery dateApril 5th, 1861
Aphelion (AU)110.443
Perihelion (AU)0.92070
Semi-major axis (AU) 55.6819
Eccentricity0.98346
Orbital period (years)415.009
Inclination (degrees) 79.7733
Longitude of ascending node (degrees)31.8674
Last perihelion June 3rd, 1861
Next perihelion June 6th, 2276