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.
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 Data Table 2015
|Meteor shower name||Lyrids|
|Meteor shower abbreviation||LYR|
|Radiant constellation||Hercules / Lyra border|
|Activity||April 16th -> April 26th|
|Peak Date||April 22nd|
|RA (J2000)||18hr 04m|
|Parent body||C/1861 G1 Thatcher|
|Notes||Also known as Alpha Lyrids or April Lyrids meteor shower|
Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher Data Table (at epoch May 25th, 1861)
|Name||C/1861 G1 Thatcher|
|Discoverer||A. E. Thatcher|
|Discovery date||April 5th, 1861|
|Semi-major axis (AU)||55.6819|
|Orbital period (years)||415.009|
|Longitude of ascending node (degrees)||31.8674|
|Last perihelion||June 3rd, 1861|
|Next perihelion||June 6th, 2276|