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Lyrid Meteor Shower Peaks On April 22 2013

The Lyrid meteor shower will be peaking this year on April 22, 2013. The annual meteor shower typically puts on a good show, averaging about 10-20 meteors an hour, but sometimes featuring “surges” of activity that peak as high as 100 meteors an hour. The Lyrids also tend to produce rather bright meteors with long highly visible trails. All in all it’s worth getting out to see them if you can make the time.

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The meteors will appear to be generally originating from the Northeastern portion of the sky, in the constellation Lyra. This year, the moon (waxing gibbous at the time) will be setting rather late, so it’ll be best to watch for them then. They tend to peak towards the early morning hours anyways, so it works out well. For those in the US, that’ll be sometime between 3:45AM and 4:30ish, the further north the later. But even if that’s too late or you, you should still be able to catch some of the meteors earlier in the night, though the Moon’s light may obscure them somewhat. And of course the rest of the year features a great many spectacular meteor showers, see: Meteor Showers 2013 Dates And Times

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The Lyrids occasionally produce fireballs so that is also something to watch out for. And on occasion, in the somewhat recent past, they have put on truly incredible shows, as a result of the Earth passing through a particularly dense patch of dust. During the 1803 meteor shower, the Lyrids peaked at more than 700 meteors an hour as seen from Richmond, Virginia. Huge bursts of activity like the 1803 shower are referred to as meteor storms.


For those that are planning to watch this years Lyrid meteor shower here are some basic tips: Get comfortable. A nice reclining chair, some warm clothes and blankets, and some hot cocoa or coffee, go a long way towards making the experience enjoyable. The further away from city lights that you can get, the better. And you’ll need to give your eyes some time to adjust to the dark in order to see the meteors easily and in high numbers, so keep your bright mobile devices turned off or with the screen dimmed really low.

For those interested in knowing what exactly meteor showers are, here’s Wikipedia with more:

“A meteor shower is the result of an interaction between a planet, such as Earth, and streams of debris from a comet. Comets can produce debris by water vapor drag, as demonstrated by Fred Whipple in 1951, and by breakup. Whipple envisioned comets as ‘dirty snowballs,’ made up of rock embedded in ice, orbiting the Sun. The ‘ice’ may be water, methane, ammonia, or other volatiles, alone or in combination. The ‘rock’ may vary in size from that of a dust mote to that of a small boulder. Dust mote sized solids are orders of magnitude more common than those the size of sand grains, which, in turn, are similarly more common than those the size of pebbles, and so on. When the ice warms and sublimates, the vapor can drag along dust, sand, and pebbles.”

“Each time a comet swings by the Sun in its orbit, some of its ice vaporizes and a certain amount of meteoroids will be shed. The meteoroids spread out along the entire orbit of the comet to form a meteoroid stream, also known as a ‘dust trail’ (as opposed to a comet’s ‘dust tail’ caused by the very small particles that are quickly blown away by solar radiation pressure).”

Comet ISON, predicted to be the “comet of the century” later this year, is also likely to cause a meteor shower when we pass through its debris trail sometime in mid-January .

The Lyrids themselves are theorized to have originated from comet Thatcher, a comet which follows a 416-year orbit almost perpendicular to the plane of the solar system.

Image Credits: Lyra via Wikimedia Commons; Meteors via Flickr CC




44 comments
  1. Suzy

    Hi. could you help please….if we live in South Africa (ie. Southern Hemisphere), will we still see the meteor shower and roughly what time would be best to view it? thanks, Suzy

  2. Suzy

    Hi. could you help please….if we live in South Africa (ie. Southern Hemisphere), will we still see the meteor shower and roughly what time would be best to view it? thanks, Suzy

  3. Justin Kersell

    once, during August of ’06 I believe, i took my nephew up to the golf
    course where we lived in Ohio to see his first meteor shower. the
    leonids, or maybe it was the perseids? either way, we saw something like
    up to 100 an hour. i took him home kind of late and stayed outside for
    the rest of the night along with a sleeping bag and some music. the bats
    kept swooping down by my face, to go after the bugs i presume. the show
    was so great that i was pretty much undeterred by the bats. i actually
    saw a fireball as well. probably one of the greatest nights of my life.

  4. Justin Kersell

    once, during August of ’06 I believe, i took my nephew up to the golf
    course where we lived in Ohio to see his first meteor shower. the
    leonids, or maybe it was the perseids? either way, we saw something like
    up to 100 an hour. i took him home kind of late and stayed outside for
    the rest of the night along with a sleeping bag and some music. the bats
    kept swooping down by my face, to go after the bugs i presume. the show
    was so great that i was pretty much undeterred by the bats. i actually
    saw a fireball as well. probably one of the greatest nights of my life.

  5. MaxS.

    I am scheduled to be on a cruise ship on 4/22, departing southward from Miami. Will I be able to see the meteors from this area?

  6. MaxS.

    I am scheduled to be on a cruise ship on 4/22, departing southward from Miami. Will I be able to see the meteors from this area?

  7. Mercedes Schrödinger

    I always get this mixed up… This will be at 3:45 a.m. on the morning of the 22nd, right? i.e. I drive out to the country on Sunday night and get cozy with a loved one and a double sleeping bag?

  8. Sann M

    Ahhh, come on Mr. Spell Check. It’s all about communication…did the idea come across?…well apparently it did, as you knew it was ‘city lights’ that the writer intended to and did communicate. geeeesh, pipe the ….frick… down.

  9. Sann M

    Ahhh, come on Mr. Spell Check. It’s all about communication…did the idea come across?…well apparently it did, as you knew it was ‘city lights’ that the writer intended to and did communicate. geeeesh, pipe the ….frick… down.

  10. I'm cool too!

    Did it make you feel good to correct someone, Mr. Spell Check? I like that you used punctuation like you were being grammatically correct but you failed to use capitalization. Let’s all go trolling around the Internet looking to make other people feel inferior. You’re arrogant and people like you are my biggest pet peeve.

    1. Marcus

      I beg to differ, Mr. I’m Cool Too, to simply expect an article to be proofed of misspelling before being published on the internet, doesn’t exactly amount to trying to make anyone feel inferior.

  11. I'm cool too!

    Did it make you feel good to correct someone, Mr. Spell Check? I like that you used punctuation like you were being grammatically correct but you failed to use capitalization. Let’s all go trolling around the Internet looking to make other people feel inferior. You’re arrogant and people like you are my biggest pet peeve.

    1. Marcus

      I beg to differ, Mr. I’m Cool Too, to simply expect an article to be proofed of misspelling before being published on the internet, doesn’t exactly amount to trying to make anyone feel inferior.

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