2009 Lyrid Shower

2009 Lyrids Composite The annual Lyrid meteor shower occurs when debris from comet Thatcher intercepts the Earth. Shower activity peaks around April 22, with some events seen several days on either side of this. These are fairly fast meteors, hitting the upper atmosphere at 49 km/s (110,000 mph).

This is a composite image of 42 meteors collected between sunset on April 19 and sunrise on April 22. Since the images were collected over many hours, the radiant of the shower is not in a fixed location. However, the radiant is very close to the bright star Vega, visible in this image as the shorter bead-like string in the center left (the longer string is the star Arcturus). All the Lyrid meteors point back to a point somewhere along the line traveled by Vega.

There are currently several active meteor showers, so not all these meteors are Lyrids. An analysis of the radiants gives 24 Lyrids, 1 Pi Puppid, 3 Eta Aquarids, and 14 unknown or sporadics. Some of those unknowns, however, are Lyrids. If the trail is too short, it is difficult to know for certain where the radiant lies.

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© Copyright 2009, Chris L Peterson. All rights reserved.