Lyrid meteor shower

By: Susie77 , 11:45 PM GMT on April 10, 2014

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| Astronomy Essentials on Apr 10, 2014


Everything you need to know: Lyrid meteor shower
Lyrids and others via NASA/MSFC/D. Moser

Lyrids and others via NASA/MSFC/D. Moser







Short-lived Lyrids’ peak comes on morning of April 22.
In 2014, moon rises in middle of the night, but these meteors are
bright. Some will withstand the moonlight.



The annual Lyrid meteor shower is active each year from about
April 16 to 25. The short-lived peak of this shower usually lasts for
less than a day. In 2014, the peak date will probably fall on April 22,
with the greatest number of meteors falling during the few hours before
dawn. A last quarter moon,
rising in the middle of the night, intrudes on the Lyrid shower in
2014, but these meteors tend to be bright. Some may overcome the
moonlight. Follow the links below to learn more about the Lyrid meteor
shower: April’s shooting stars!
How many Lyrids meteors can I expect to see?
Where is the radiant point for the Lyrid meteor shower?
Lyrid meteors in history.
How to watch the Lyrid meteors.
Comet Thatcher is the source of the Lyrid meteors.
What was that date again?

A fireball meteor falling earthward, courtesy of NASA/George Varros
How many Lyrids meteors can I expect to see?
On a moonless night, you can often see up 10 to 20 meteors an hour at
the shower’s peak. Due to the phase of the moon, meteor counts could be
down in 2014.
On the other hand, meteor showers are notorious for defying the most
careful predictions. The Lyrids stand as no exception. An outburst of
Lyrid meteors is always a possibility (though no Lyrid outburst is
predicted for 2014).
For instance, American observers saw an outburst of nearly 100 Lyrid
meteors per hour in 1982. Around 100 meteors per hour were seen in
Greece in 1922 and from Japan in 1945.
Meteor-watchers are risk-takers, as a group. They’re always hoping
for that fabulous display. So you can bet that some aficionados will be
out there on April 22, set up to watch the 2014 Lyrids, despite the
moon.
The radiant point of the Lyrid meteor shower is near the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra the Harp.
The radiant point of the Lyrid meteor shower is near the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra the Harp.

Another
view of the brilliant star Vega, which nearly coincides with the
radiant point of April’s Lyrid meteor shower. Image via AlltheSky


Where is the radiant point for the Lyrid meteor shower?
If you trace the paths of all the Lyrid meteors backward, they seem to
radiate from the constellation Lyra the Harp, near the brilliant star
Vega. However, this is only a chance alignment, for these meteors burn
up in the atmosphere about 100 kilometers – or 60 miles – up. Vega lies
trillions of times farther away at 25 light-years.
The star Vega resides quite far north of the celestial equator, so
for that reason the Lyrid meteor shower favors the Northern Hemisphere.
At mid-northern latitudes, Vega sits low over the northeastern horizon
around 10 p.m. Afterwards, Vega soars upward during the nighttime hours
and reaches its highest point in the sky around dawn.
As a general rule, the higher that Vega climbs into the sky, the more
meteors that you’re likely to see. That’s why the greatest numbers of
meteors generally fly in the dark hours before dawn.
More about radiant point of April’s Lyrid meteor shower
Portrait of Confucius.
Portrait of Confucius.
Lyrid meteors in history. The
Lyrid meteor shower has the distinction of being among the oldest of
known meteor showers. Records of this shower go back for some 2,700
years.
The ancient Chinese are said to have observed the Lyrid meteors “falling like rain” in the year 687 BC.
That time period in ancient China, by the way, corresponds with what is called the Spring and Autumn Period
(about 771 to 476 BC), which tradition associates with the Chinese
teacher and philosopher Confucius, one of the first to espouse the
principle: “Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.”
I wonder if he saw the meteors …
How to watch the Lyrid meteors.
Fortunately, you don’t need any special equipment to watch a meteor
shower. Just find a dark, open sky away from artificial lights. Lie down
comfortably on a reclining lawn chair, and look upward.
Although the moonlight is likely to wash out some Lyrid meteors in
2014, a portion of these Lyrid meteors should be bright enough to
overcome the moonlit glare.
Another beautiful feature of the Lyrids to watch for … about one quarter of these swift meteors exhibit persistent trains – that is, ionized gas trails that glow for a few seconds after the meteor has passed.
Lyrids and others via NASA/MSFC/D. Moser
Lyrids and others via NASA/MSFC/D. Moser
Comet Thatcher is the source of the Lyrid meteors.
Every year, in the later part of April, our planet Earth crosses the
orbital path of Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), of which there are no
photographs due to its roughly a 415-year orbit around the sun. Comet
Thatcher last visited the inner solar system in 1861, before the
photographic process became widespread. This comet isn’t expected to
return until the year 2276.
Bits and pieces shed by this comet litter its orbit and bombard the
Earth’s upper atmosphere at 177,000 kilometers (110,000 miles) per hour.
The vaporizing debris streaks the nighttime with medium-fast Lyrid
meteors.
If Earth passes through an unusually thick clump of comet rubble, an elevated number of meteors could be in store.
What was that date again? So heads up in late April! The Lyrids will probably be best between midnight and dawn on April 22, 2014. The light of the last quarter moon
will interfere, but if you’re out there with friends, a lawn chair to
recline on, a sleeping bag to stay warm and thermos of something hot to
drink … you’ll have fun.
Bottom line: Remember that the Lyrids aren’t the year’s best meteor
shower. In the Northern Hemisphere, that distinction often goes to the
Perseids in August or the Geminids in December. But the Lyrids do offer
10 to 20 meteors per hour at their peak on a moonless night; in 2014,
the last quarter moon will likely temper the production before dawn on
April 22. And remember that, like all meteor showers, the Lyrids aren’t
altogether predictable. In rare instances, they can bombard the sky
with up to nearly 100 meteors per hour.


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5. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
11:54 AM GMT on April 16, 2014
Susie77 has created a new entry.
4. Susie77
12:59 PM GMT on April 12, 2014
Thanks, guys.
Member Since: April 14, 2002 Posts: 611 Comments: 544
3. Patrap
2:56 AM GMT on April 12, 2014
NASA's Orion Spacecraft Powers through First Integrated System Testing



Engineers in the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, perform avionics testing on the Orion spacecraft being prepared for its first trip to space later this year.
Image Credit: Lockheed Martin

NASA's Orion spacecraft has proven its mettle in a test designed to determine the spacecraft's readiness for its first flight test -- Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) -- later this year. EFT-1 will send the spacecraft more than 3,600 miles from Earth and return it safely.

The spacecraft ran for 26 uninterrupted hours during the final phase of a major test series completed April 8 at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test verified the crew module can route power and send commands that enable the spacecraft to manage its computer system, software and data loads, propulsion valves, temperature sensors and other instrumentation.
"This has been the most significant integrated testing of the Orion spacecraft yet," said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA's human exploration and operations at the agency's Headquarters in Washington.

"The work done to test the avionics with the crew module isn't just preparing us for Orion's first trip to space in a few months. It's also getting us ready to send crews far into the solar system."

In October 2013, NASA and Lockheed Martin engineers powered on Orion's main computer for the first time. Since then, they have installed harnessing, wiring and electronics. This was the first time engineers ran the crew module through its paces to verify all system actuators respond correctly to commands and all sensors report back as planned. More than 20 miles of wire are required to connect the different systems being powered.

"Getting all the wiring right, integrating every element of the avionics together, and then testing it continuously for this many hours is a big step toward getting to deep space destinations," said Mark Geyer, Orion program manager.

Engineers now are preparing the crew module for vibration testing, scheduled for the week of April 14. In May, the heat shield will be installed and, shortly thereafter, the crew module will be attached with the service module.

During EFT-1, an uncrewed Orion spacecraft will take a four-hour trip into space, traveling 15 times farther from Earth than the International Space Station. During its reentry into Earth's atmosphere, Orion will be traveling at 20,000 mph, faster than any current spacecraft capable of carrying humans, and endure temperatures of approximately 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

The data gathered during the flight will inform design decisions to improve the spacecraft that will one day carry humans to an asteroid and eventually Mars. EFT-1 is targeted for launch in December.

For more information on Orion, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov/orion
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127550
1. BaltimoreBrian
2:32 AM GMT on April 12, 2014
If the moon were only 1 pixel: a tediously accurate scale model of the solar system
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8558

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About Susie77

Sometimes I complain about the earthly weather, but mostly I like to post about astronomy and space events. Hope you enjoy the articles.

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