April features a pair of cosmic spectacles: The annual Lyrid meteor shower and 2021's first supermoon

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Detroit Free Press 16 April, 2021 - 06:54pm 9 views

When is the meteor shower 2021?

The peak night of activity is expected to be Wednesday/Thursday, April 21/22, 2021, but the Lyrids tend to produce good rates of shooting stars for about three nights. So it's worth also looking skywards on Tuesday/Wednesday, April 20/21 and on Thursday/Friday, April 22/23, 2021. ForbesHow, When And Where You Can See A ‘Fireball’ This Week As Lyrid Meteor Shower Peaks

Lyrid Meteor Shower Peak: When To See Fireballs In Concord

Patch.com 16 April, 2021 - 02:40pm

CONCORD, CA — One thing we've all learned in Concord over the last year is the enjoyment of simple pleasures like nights spent under a canopy of stars. It's even better when fireballs blaze across the sky — the brighter-than-normal shooting stars that the Lyrid meteor shower starting this week is known for producing.

There hasn't been much beyond the ordinary to stare up at in the nighttime sky since the Quadrantid meteor shower that ushered in 2021. But that changes this month with the Lyrids, which start Friday and run for two weeks through Friday, April 30.

The Lyrids overlap with another meteor shower, the Eta Aquariids (sometimes spelled Aquarids), which will sprinkle some fast-moving meteors in the morning sky before their peak next month, and the first of three consecutive supermoons rises on April 27.

Head outside the morning of Thursday, April 22, around moonset (that's around 4:10 a.m. in Concord) for the Lyrid meteor shower peak — the perfect way to start your Earth Day celebration.

Another good reason to wait for the early morning hours to stargaze: A 68 percent full moon will interfere with viewing in the evening and early nighttime hours.

At the peak, the Lyrids reliably produce 10 to 15 meteors an hour. That's not a lot, but they are called the "Old Faithful of meteor showers" by Space.com because their peak usually lasts for several hours.

And they're known for a good number of fireballs — meteors with persistent trails of ionized gas that glow for a few seconds after the shooting star passes.

Don't wait for the peak to start searching the skies for meteors, though. Shooting stars will start picking up in intensity Monday and Tuesday of next week, according to Earthsky.org. And seeing a few on the morning of the 23rd isn't out of the question.

The Lyrids, among the oldest known meteor showers, are produced by particles shed by Comet 1861 G1 Thatcher, which last passed through the inner solar system in 1861 and won't be back again until 2276.

As with all meteor showers, unless it's dark where you live, it's best to get out in the country away from city lights to get the best views.

Take along a lounge chair so you can get a wide view of the sky, and don't forget to pack a blanket to keep you warm during this celestial distraction.

Space.com offers this helpful advice to locate the Lyrids:

"The paths of these meteors, if extended backward, seem to diverge from a spot in the sky about 7 degrees southwest (to the lower right) of the brilliant blue-white star Vega in the little constellation Lyra (hence the name 'Lyrids').

"Your clenched fist held at arm's length covers roughly 10 degrees of the sky. The radiant point is actually on the border between Lyra and the adjacent dim, sprawling constellation Hercules. Vega appears to rise from the northeast around 9 p.m. your local time, but by 4 a.m., it has climbed to a point in the sky nearly overhead."

We'll have more as the Eta Aquariids draw closer, but the monthlong shower that runs from April 27 to May 28 peaks May 4-6 with anywhere from 10 to 20 meteors an hour. The Eta Aquariid meteors are swift and produce a high percentage of persistent trains but few fireballs.

April 27 is also the first of three consecutive supermoons. The April full supermoon is known as the full pink moon, the sprouting grass moon, the growing moon, the egg moon or the fish moon.

As NASA explains it, a supermoon occurs when the moon's orbit is closest (perigee) to Earth at the same time it is full. The closeness to Earth — keep in mind, our planet and moon are still 226,000 apart at this point — makes the moon appear a bit brighter and larger than usual.

It's Time to Watch the Biggest Meteor Shower of the Spring, Known for its Fireballs

Good News Network 16 April, 2021 - 01:45pm

It’s been a few months since we had our last meteor shower, but the night sky is about to light up once again—with starry streaks brightening the night.

This annual Lyrid meteor shower will begin tonight on April 16, and it’ll peak next week from April 21-22.

The Lyrids are one of the oldest known meteor showers, having been observed 2,700 years ago in historical Chinese texts.

According to the American Meteor Society, the Lyrids “usually lack persistent trains but can produce fireballs”—with NASA confirming they can often be seen for many seconds at a time.

Best viewed in the Northern Hemisphere, to see the Lyrids head out to a dark area and look towards the Lyra constellation which rises in the east.

For help finding the constellation, you may want to check out this interactive sky map that’s being updating daily through the Lyrids.

If you have clear skies, lucky you: you can expect to see very bright meteors at a forecast rate of up to 18 per hour.

CHECK OUT: Mind-Bending Pictures of the Moon With Inverted Colors Show Where Magma Once Flowed

If you do miss April’s meteor shower? Not to worry. Tis the season, and the Eta Aquarids meteor shower is going to peak on May 4.

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