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Lyrids peak tonight April 21, 2006

Posted by dr. gonzo in Space.

Lyrid meteor shower peaks tonight. Just how many meteors can be seen is up in the air but most of the time the Lyrid shower is a trickle (10 to 15 per hour).

However, like I said it's up in the air (literally-haha), In 1982 the shower peaked at an amazing 100+ meteors per hour. Wow.

If you want to see the Lyrids best viewing is in the pre-dawn hours away from city lights. The moon won't be out yet so viewing should be optimal. They will appear to radiate from the constellation Lyra, The Harp.

Lyra is easy to find. Just look for the brightest star in the sky in the predawn hours toward the north-northeast, it's Vega. The quadrilateral pattern around Vega, also easy to spot is Lyra.

You won't need to find Lyra to see the meteors though but just in case you wanted to find it there it is, an easy spot.

If you are patient and have a small telescope this year's shower could be especially interesting. The moon itself will be passing through the cometary debris cloud that creates the shower on Earth. If you have your scope pointed at the moon after it rises you just might get to witness a special treat. As the moon passes through the cloud it raises the possiblity that, through a telescope, you will be able to see some of the debris impact the moon creating bright flashes on its surface as they explode. Neat.


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