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Lyrids (LYR)
Parent bodyC/1861 G1 (Thatcher)[1]
ConstellationLyra and Hercules
(near HD 166988)
Right ascension18h 10m [2]
Occurs duringApril 15 – April 29[2]
Date of peakApril 23[2]
(λ = 32°)
Velocity46.8[2] km/s
Zenithal hourly rate18/hr[2]
See also: List of meteor showers
Radiant point of the April Lyrid meteor shower, active each year around April 22

The April Lyrids are a meteor shower lasting from about April 15 to April 29 each year. The radiant of the meteor shower is located near the constellations Lyra and Hercules, near the bright star Vega. The peak of the shower is typically around April 22–23 each year.

The source of the meteor shower are particles of dust shed by the long-period Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher.[1] The April Lyrids are the strongest annual shower of meteors from debris of a long-period comet, mainly because as far as other intermediate long-period comets go (200–10,000 years), this one has a relatively short orbital period of about 415 years. The Lyrids have been observed and reported since 687 BC; no other modern shower has been recorded as far back in time.[3]

The shower usually peaks around April 22 and the morning of April 23. Counts typically range from 5 to 20 meteors per hour, averaging around 10.[4] As a result of light pollution, observers in rural areas will see more than observers in a city. Nights without the Moon in the sky will reveal the most meteors. April Lyrid meteors are usually around magnitude +2. However, some meteors can be brighter, known as "Lyrid fireballs", cast shadows for a split second and leave behind smokey debris trails that last minutes.[5]

Occasionally, the shower intensifies when the planets steer the one-revolution dust trail of the comet into Earth's path, an event that happens about once every 60 years.[1] This results in an April Lyrid meteor outburst. The one-revolution dust trail is dust that has completed one orbit: the stream of dust released in the return of the comet prior to the current 1862 return. This mechanism replaces earlier ideas that the outbursts were due to a cloud of dust moving in a 60-year orbit.[6] In 1982, amateur astronomers counted 90 April Lyrids per hour at the peak and similar rates were seen in 1922. A stronger storm of up to 700 per hour occurred in 1803,[7] and was observed by a journalist in Richmond, Virginia:

Shooting stars. This electrical phenomenon was observed on Wednesday morning last at Richmond and its vicinity, in a manner that alarmed many, and astonished every person that beheld it. From one until three in the morning, those starry meteors seemed to fall from every point in the heavens, in such numbers as to resemble a shower of sky rockets ...[5]

Another such outburst, and the oldest known, the shower on March 23.7,[8] 687 BC (proleptic Julian calendar) was recorded in Zuo Zhuan, which describes the shower as "On the 4th month in the summer in the year of xīn-mǎo (of year 7 of King Zhuang of Lu), at night, (the sky is so bright that some) fixed stars become invisible (because of the meteor shower); at midnight, stars fell like rain."[9] In the Australian Aboriginal astronomy of the Boorong tribe, the Lyrids represent the scratchings of the Mallee fowl (represented by Vega), coinciding with its nest-building season.[10]

Year Peak of shower ZHRmax
2007 April 23 21[11]
2008 waning gibbous Moon (Full moon on April 20)[12]
2009 April 22 15[13]
2010 April 22 20[14]
2011 April 22 20[15]
2012 April 22 and April 26 (spiked to 37 ± 21) 25/37[16]
2013 April 22 (Full moon April 25)[17] 22[18]
2014 April 22 (last quarter moon rises at 2am local time)[19] 20[20]
2015 April 22
2016 April 22 (Full Moon)
2017 April 22–23[21]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Jenniskens, Peter (2015). Meteor Showers and their Parent Comets. Cambridge University Press. p. 80. doi:10.1017/CBO9781316257104.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "2023 Meteor Shower List". American Meteor Society (AMS). Retrieved 2023-08-05.
  3. ^ King, Bob (18 April 2018). "The Lyrid Shower Kicks Off Year of Great Meteor Watching". F+W Media, Inc. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  4. ^ "Lyrids". Meteor Showers Online. p. 1. Archived from the original on 2010-03-24. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  5. ^ a b "the Lyrid meteor shower". 2008. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  6. ^ Arter, T. R.; Williams, I. P. (1997). "The mean orbit of the April Lyrids". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 289 (3): 721–728. Bibcode:1997MNRAS.289..721A. doi:10.1093/mnras/289.3.721.
  7. ^ Martinez, Patrick (1994), The Observer's Guide to Astronomy, Practical Astronomy Handbooks, vol. 2, Translated by Storm Dunlop, Cambridge University Press, p. 645, ISBN 0521458986.
  8. ^ M. Ed. Biot, 1841, Gatalogue General des Etoiles Filantes et des Autres Meteores Observes en Chine pendent 24 Siecles, Paris, Imprimerie Royale; P. Jenniskens, 2006, Meteor Showers and their Parent Comets, Cambridge University Press, 790 pp.
  9. ^ Sinnott, Roger W. (2008). "Meteors – April's Lyrid Meteor Shower". Sky and Telescope. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-08-05.
  10. ^ Hill, Tanya; Brown, Michael J. I. (22 April 2014). "The Lyrids meteor shower should put on a show overnight". The Conversation. Retrieved 22 April 2014.
  11. ^ Lyrids 2007: visual data quicklook Archived 2012-12-24 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ U.S. Naval Observatory Phases of the Moon 2008
  13. ^ Lyrids 2009: visual data quicklook Archived 2013-02-02 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Lyrids 2010: visual data quicklook Archived 2013-02-02 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Lyrids 2011: visual data quicklook Archived 2013-02-02 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Lyrids 2012: visual data quicklook". International Meteor Organization. Archived from the original on 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2012-04-26.
  17. ^ U.S. Naval Observatory Phases of the Moon 2013
  18. ^ "Lyrids 2013: visual data quicklook". International Meteor Organization. Archived from the original on 2013-12-24. Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  19. ^ Meteor Activity Outlook for April 19-25, 2014
  20. ^ "Lyrids 2014: visual data quicklook". International Meteor Organization. Archived from the original on 2014-04-26. Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  21. ^ Friedlander, Blaine; Friedlander, Blaine (2017-04-20). "Look up! The Lyrid meteor shower peaks this weekend". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-04-20.

External links[edit]