Lyrids Meteor Shower 2014

For the Lyrids Meteor Shower this year, the Moon is going to keep the sky quite light, which will make it much harder to see them.  Saying that, it should still be possible, especially when they are at their peak on the 23rd April.  I say this as I happened to be outside this past Tuesday night, watching the ISS fly over Plymouth, and to my surprise, whilst it was moving through Ursa Major (specifically the Plough part of the constellation), there were 5 or 6 tiny little explosions going off in the sky nearby.  I couldn’t quite believe it really and it put me off watching the ISS (which I always find fascinating!).

I watched for several more minutes and saw several other meteors in the sky, in the general area of the sky off to the left of Ursa Major.  These were not massive meteors as far as I could tell, as you only saw them for a split second, but this was probably due to the almost full moon which was keeping the sky bright and hiding all but the most brightest stars.  These weren’t like the tiny explosions I saw during the ISS flyover, but more meteor like.  I can only presume these were the Lyrids and the first batch I saw were so small and didn’t ‘shoot across the sky’ but burnt up as soon as they hit the atmosphere of the Earth.  The second batch must have been slightly bigger and lasted longer when hitting the atmosphere.  Either way, it was great viewing!

Earth and a Lyrid Meteor

Earth and a Lyrid Meteor taken by Astronaut Don Pettit. Copyright Nasa.

The Lyrids Meteors emanate from the constellation Lyra (hence their name) and they are part of the comet Thatcher that takes about 415 years to orbit the Sun.  The peak of the shower is usually around the 21st to the 24th of April but they can be seen for several days before and after, depending on how lucky you are!  I guess I was very lucky the other night!

Enjoy the Lyrids Meteor Gazing!! 😉

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