¡SkyCaramba! Weekly astronomy blog for the week ending April 25, 2015
This week, the earth moves through the trail of old comet dust left behind by Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher. The resulting meteors seem to be coming from the constellation Lyra, so they are called Lyrid meteors. To avoid confusion with another Lyrid meteor shower that occurs another time of year, this one’s sometimes called the April Lyrid shower. The other one is then called the June Lyrids.
The April Lyrids don’t often leave trails. But sometimes they produce big fireballs. The meteors travel about 30 miles per second and are considered to be of medium speed. This shower’s peak is broad which is a way of saying you might see many meteors on several nights in a row. A shower with a narrow peak might last just a few hours. You could see up to 20 per hour for a few nights around April 23.
The best viewing is from the northern hemisphere after midnight. That’s because Lyra is a northern hemisphere constellation that rises in the mid-evening hours. You could still see some Lyrids before the constellation has risen or even if you’re too far south to see ...