Image Credit & Copyright: Mike Taylor CLICK photo for a larger view and look below for links and information.

Beautiful image and capture from Mike Taylor while shooting waaaay up on the Bold Coast of Maine on September 7, 2013. I will say, being a local New Englander myself; if you ever get a couple days to just drive and explore the upper coast of Maine (Tides of Eastport and Old Sow, the second biggest whirlpool on Earth) I highly recommend it. This image, which is just one frame in an hour long time-lapse, captured the brilliant blink of an eye flash of a meteor streaking overhead. Also, take a look into the sky; can anyone pick out what region of the night sky you see here? There are some pretty prominent objects here if you know what you’re looking at.

As for the Lyrids meteor shower coming up mid-month; the range for the shower stretches from about the 16th to the 25th of April with peak night occurring on the night of the 21st and especially on the morning of the 22nd. The hourly rate for this event will likely be somewhere between 15-20 an hour so as with most showers, patience is a must. The Moon will be 50% illuminated in its 3rd quarter phase so many of the dimmer streaks will likely go unnoticed while it’s in the sky, reducing that hourly rate significantly. This is a primarily northern hemisphere event though as with most meteor showers, don’t be surprised to see them all over the world to some extent. The parent object for the annual Lyrids is Comet C/1861 G1 (Thatcher).

LYRIDS (April)
ACTIVE DATES: April 16th – 25th, 2014.
PEAK VIEWING: The night of April 21 and morning of April 22nd.
HOURLY RATE: Estimates put the hourly rate at approximately 15 per hour.
RADIANT POINT: In the general direction of the constellation Lyra.
MOON IMPACT: HIGH = Last Quarter 50% illuminated.
VELOCITY: 30 miles per second.
PARENT BODY: Comet C/1861 G1 (Thatcher).
HEMISPHERE FAVORED: Northern Hemisphere.

Peak night is usually a given night and next morning with the “next morning” being the absolute best time to watch. In fact the close to morning twilight you can get, the better…’s why. If you view the solar system from the top, planets orbit the Sun in a counter clockwise motion, we also rotate in a counter clockwise motion. That means just before sunrise the Earth is pointed in the direction of travel of the Earth itself and meteors are mere “bugs (Or if you prefer; “snowflakes”) hitting the windshield” of Spaceship Earth.
What are some of the things you will need for meteor showers? Well, as for seeing them….nothing. The most important things you need are a CLEAR sky and a DARK sky. In fact you really cannot use binoculars or a telescope for meteor showers because the streak is too long and you won’t be able to physically move your equipment into position in less than a second anyway. Things to consider are weather and subsequently how you plan to dress for that weather. Red flashlights will help save your eyes because dark adaptation is a key in picking out the faint streaks you won’t be able to see after you just check your cell phone. Besides that, chair, blankets, bug spray, food and try not to lie on any ant hills.

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