composite image of the 2011 Lyrid Meteor Shower peak from ELPALLSKY-El Paso, TX
NASA Again Hosting All Night Chat For The 2012 Lyrid Meteor Shower
In 2011 the bright moon overshadowed visibility for many meteor showers, but now Lady Luna has decided to share the stellar stage. For the 2012 Lyrids meteor shower, a new moon will set darker skies that are ideal for meteor watching.
If you're looking for a fun way to spend an early spring weekend, make plans to stay "up all night" with NASA experts to watch the Lyrids brighten the skies. On Saturday, April 21, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. EDT -- convert to your local time here -- meteor experts Dr. Bill Cooke, Danielle Moser and Rhiannon Blaauw from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center will answer your questions about the Lyrids via a live Web chat.
Joining the chat is easy. Simply return to this page a few minutes before 11 p.m. EDT on Saturday, April 21. The chat module will appear at the bottom of this page. After you log in, wait for the chat module to be activated, then ask your questions!
A live video feed of the Lyrid meteor shower will be embedded on this page on the night of the Web chat, and there will be alternate allsky views being streamed from this allsky camera network.
The Lyrid meteor shower will be viewable all over the world, with best rates seen just before dawn at the location where you're watching the skies. The Lyrids are very unpredictable, with peak meteor rates between 10-100 per hour. This year Dr. Cooke estimates that the rate will be around 15 per hour, though he is hoping for a surprise increase above this!
More About the Lyrids
Lyrids are pieces of debris from the periodic Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher and have been observed for more than 2,600 years. In mid-April of each year, Earth runs into the stream of debris from the comet, which causes the Lyrid meteor shower. You can tell if a meteor belongs to a particular shower by tracing back its path to see if it originates near a specific point in the sky, called the radiant. The constellation in which the radiant is located gives the shower its name, and in this case, Lyrids appear to come from a point in the constellation Lyra.