The annual Lyrid meteor shower will hit its peak this weekend and promises to put on an eye-catching display. So much so, NASA is pulling out all the stops.
NASA scientists plan to track the Lyrid meteor showerusing a network of all-sky cameras on Earth, as well as from a student-launched balloon in California. Meanwhile, an astronaut on the International Space Station will attempt to photograph the meteors from space.
All of the work is timed for the peak of the Lyrids display of “shooting stars,” which occurs late Saturday night and early Sunday (April 21 and 22). The meteors will appear to emanate from the constellation Lyra, which will appear in the northeastern sky at midnight local time, between the two days. The best time to see them is in the hours before dawn.
“I’m eager to see if we can get observations on the ground that we can correlate with the space station, then see what this balloon payload will get for us,” NASA meteor shower expert Bill Cooke told SPACE.com. “It’s kind of an exciting time for us, and it’s not even a major meteor shower.” [ Gallery: Sky Maps for 2012 Lyrid Meteor Shower ]
Cooke heads NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. He expects the Lyrids to offer skywatchers between 15 and 20 meteors per hour for observers under the best viewing conditions (clear weather and far from city lights). Dark skies are vital to get the best view of all meteor showers.
For more of Tariq Malik’s article click HERE.
Click HERE for EarthSky’s 2012 Meteor Shower Guide
|Name||Date of Peak||Moon|
|Quadrantids||night of January 3||Sets after midnight|
|Lyrids||night of April 21||New|
|Eta Aquarids||night of May 5||Full|
|Perseids||night of August 13||Morning crescent|
|Orionids||night of October 21||First quarter|
|Leonids||night of November 17||Evening crescent|
|Geminids||night of December 13||New|