EARTH DAY METEOR SHOWER: Earth is passing through a stream of debris from ancient Comet Thatcher, source of the annual Lyrid meteor shower. Prof. Peter Brown of the Universiy of Western Ontario reports that “the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar (CMOR) just finished processing orbital data from last night and the Lyrids are showing up quite nicely. The meteor rate is near 15 per hour so visual observers should have had a good view early this morning and should be able to easily detect the shower tonight.”
Click to view an all-sky map of CMOR meteor radar echoes on April 22nd:
The bright pink blob pinpoints the Lyrid radiant in the constellation Lyra. Other lesser showers are active, too, but they are much weaker. If you see a meteor tonight, it is probably a Lyrid.
Usually the Lyrid meteor shower is mild (10-20 meteors per hour), but unmapped filaments of dust in the comet’s tail sometimes trigger outbursts ten times stronger. So far this year’s shower is trending toward the usual. “The shower is comparable in strength to what was seen last year – so far no surprises,” says Brown.
Forecasters expect the shower to peak on April 22nd between the hours of 10:00 UT and 21:00 UT.