The annual Lyrids meteor shower peaks during the night of April 21st/22nd and this year's event promises to be a good one, as the 23% illuminated waning crescent Moon in Aquarius, won't significantly interfere. Normally, you can expect to see up to 20 meteors per hour under ideal conditions. In addition, the Lyrids do occasionally produce brilliant fireballs, that streak through the sky and cast shadows as they disintegrate in the Earth's atmosphere.

View just after midnight on April 22, 2017 from northern temperate latitudes (credit:- stellarium/freestarcharts)

Unlike sporadic meteors that originate from anywhere in the sky, periodic meteors can always be traced back to the same part of the sky (radiant point). Therefore, spotting this type of shooting star should be easy, just focus on the radiant point. Correct, not quite. The problem is that, although the meteors do originate from the radiant, they almost always streak across the sky many degrees from it. Therefore, good advice is to lie down on something like a reclining chair, look skywards and scan a large area of sky around the radiant, but not directly at it.

The Lyrids radiant is located inside Hercules. It's positioned close to the border with Lyra and only 6 degrees from Vega (mag. 0.0), the 5th brightest star in the sky. The best time to observe is around midnight and during the early hours of the morning.

Lyrids Radiant and Star Chart (credit:- freestarcharts)

Lyrids Radiant and Star Chart - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

Lyrids Meteor Shower Data Table

Meteor shower nameLyrids
Radiant ConstellationHercules / Lyra border
Dates16th April -> 26th April
Peak Date22nd April
RA (J2000)18hr 04m
DEC (J2000)+34d
Speed (km/s)49
ZHR15
ParentC/1861 G1 Thatcher (comet)

Sky Highlights - August 2017

Total Solar Eclipse
Total Solar Eclipse of August 21st

Meteor Shower
Perseids meteor shower peaks on August 12th

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for August

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Mercury (mag. +0.4) (start of month)
Southwest:- Jupiter (mag. -1.9)
South:- Saturn (mag. +0.3)
East:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
Midnight
Southwest:- Saturn
Southeast:- Neptune
East:- Uranus (mag. +5.8)
Morning
Southwest:- Neptune
South:- Uranus
East:- Venus (mag. -4.0)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Mercury (first half of month)
Northwest:- Jupiter
North:- Saturn
East:- Neptune
Midnight
West:- Jupiter
Northwest:- Saturn
North:- Neptune
East:- Uranus
Morning
West:- Neptune
North:- Uranus
Northeast:- Venus

Deep Sky

Small telescopes:-
Messier 13 - M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 92 - M92 - Globular Cluster
Messier 11 - M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 7 - M7 - The Ptolemy Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 6 - M6 - The Butterfly Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 4 - M4 - Globular Cluster
Messier 8 - M8 - Lagoon Nebula (Emission Nebula)
Messier 16 - M16 - Eagle Nebula (Emission Nebula with Open Cluster)
Messier 20 - M20 - Trifid Nebula (Emission and Reflection Nebula)

Shop at Amazon US

Contributions

If you like the website and want to contribute to the running costs then please do so below. All contributions are most welcome.

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online.