Updates About Meteor Showers

Apr 01

Meteor Shower – The Lyrids – April

meteor showersBetween the months of January and March, leading up to April, there’s not a lot of meteor shower activity. With the exception of the the Quadrantids, which occurs in the month of January, there’s just not much else to watch. However as soon as April opens her doors, things start to heat up.

The Lyrids Meteor Shower peaks in the month of April – setting the stage for the entrance of the prime annual meteor showers of 2013. The Lyrids has its major meteor activity after midnight, in the early morning hours of April 22.

Following on from the Lyrids is a minor meteor shower called the Pi-Puppids. This meteor shower peaks on April 23. However its activity won’t be stellar as a major shower or as energetic, due to its weak stream. In early May, another meteor shower worth looking out for is the eta-Aquariids. It has its peak in the early morning hours on May 6.

One of the Summer months’ highlights is a true giant of a meteor shower – the Perseids Meteor Shower. This glamorous event peaks in August and is well worth seeing.

April has a much better climate for individuals within the Northern Hemisphere, so it’s a great time to get fired up for the meteor viewing season. The warmer weather makes for a more comfortable viewing experience, with more chances to see more meteors.

What About the Lyrids Meteor Shower?

The Lyrids Meteor Shower may be the earliest recorded meteor shower, found in referenced documentation throughout the Chou Empire time period, around 687 AD. It was documented when a Chinese onlooker wrote in a journal, “at night, fixed stars are invisible, at midnight, stars dropped down like rain”.

The Lyrids takes its title from the glowing stars that form the constellation Lyra. The constellation Lyra is named after an old stringed device – much like the harp.

meteor showersWhat exactly is the source of this meteor shower?

Sometime in 1861, novice astronomer as well as teacher, A.E. Thatcher found the comet that produces the meteoroid stream for the Lyrids. Like most comet discoverers, they get to decide the name. In this case it was named, Comet Thatcher – after its discoverer.

The Thatcher Comet orbits the Sun every 415 years. It’s due to be visible from Earth again in 2276. The crux of meteor shower activity for most meteor showers lies in the streams of dust that follow the comet’s orbit. So, every year in April Earth passes through the path of this comet, resulting in a spectacular celestial display called the Lyrids Meteor Shower.

When Do You Look?

No matter where you are in the world, the best time to view a meteor shower is after midnight. So for this one, I said the peak is April 22. This means that on the night of April 21. it will start to build strength. After midnight it should start to get stronger, until the early morning hours. You may want to look at a more detailed explanation of “midnight” in my meteor viewing page on the site.

Do You Wish Upon a Falling Star?

The peak of the Lyrids Meteor Shower falls on the same day as Earth Day. So make a wish for planet Earth and enjoy watching this meteor shower. Keep in mind some much better meteor showers are set to be arriving soon!

-Meteor Mark

April Meteor Shower Schedule

Lyrids Meteor Shower
Call Now: 888-989-5062Start Date: April 16
Peak Date: April 22
End Date: April 25

π-Puppids Meteor Shower
Start Date: April 15
Peak Date: April 23
End Date: April 28

η-Aquarids Meteor Shower
Start Date: April 19
Peak Date: May 6
End Date: May 28

Mar 13

Meteor Shower and Comet

It’s a fact that meteor showers are caused by comets. Right now there is a minor meteor shower happening but it isn’t related to the naked-eye visible comet. Comet Pan-STARRS will be visible in the western horizon at dusk.

Comet In the month of March the comet will be visible in the Northern Hemisphere. If you want to try and view the comet, have a look in the early evening. Look where the sun sets and gaze right after. You’re not looking for an object whizzing through the sky like a meteor. A comet, even though it is moving very fast will appear stationary to viewers. However, it will change its location and appear to move northward. As the month goes on, it will be in front of the constellation Pisces and then meander over the constellations Andromeda and Pegasus.

Meteor Shower Fact

Some meteor showers are caused by comets. As our Earth orbits the sun, it will pass through the dust trails created by comets. In the month of May and October, probably the most famous comet of all time is the source of a meteor shower. Halley’s Comet is responsible for the Orionids Meteor Shower in October and the upcoming May Eta Aquariids.

As Halley’s Comet orbits our Sun and returns to view from Earth every 75 to 76 years it leaves behind streams of meteoroids of which Earth will pass through every year at the same time. Another very famous meteor shower, the Perseids, is caused by a comet. In 1862, Lewis Swift and Horace Parnell-Tuttle discovered the Swift-Tuttle Comet and since then it has been identified as the source of this prolific August meteor shower, the Perseids.

Will Comet Pan-STARRS create a Meteor Shower?

You won’t see any extra meteors in the sky as a result of Comet Pan-STARRS being visible, here’s why. Remember, meteor showers can be caused by the Earth passing through the trails of comets. This comet is over 100 million miles (160+ million kilometers) away from our planet and we will not be passing through its path of meteoroids and dust.

Tonight is definitely a good time to view Comet Pan-STARRS. So, before I go out there and take a look, I’ll leave you with one more interesting fact. Unlike Halley’s Comet, Comet Pan-STARRS will not be back any time soon. Comet Pan-STARRS is only passing us by. I hear it may return in some number of millions of years… until then…

Keep your head up,

-Meteor Mark

comet orbit

There’s a minor meteor shower happening right now: Gamma Normids