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Lyrids 2022: where and when to see the spring meteor shower?


The month of April brings us the return of a shower of stars. Meteors will streak across the skies during the 2022 Lyrid Meteor Shower, but visibility may be slightly affected by the brightness of the Moon (which will be in a waning phase). But since it’s already spring, the Moon won’t really interfere with the Lyrids, since the angle made by the ecliptic with the horizon in the pre-dawn period is shallow. The Moon will rise when dawn is well advanced.

This meteor shower (which lasts from April 14 to 30) will peak on the night of Thursday, April 21, until the early hours of Friday, April 22, according to the International Meteor Organization (IMO). Although there are years in which the Lyrids can produce up to 100 meteors per hour , experts do not expect that level of astronomical spectacle this year. It will be 10-20 meteors per hour (in perfect conditions, averaging 18), but some of them could be very conspicuous, with meteors leaving a trail of ionized gas that glows for a few seconds after the meteor has passed, with a momentary tail of color.

Meteorites are small pieces of debris left behind by certain celestial objects, such as asteroids or comets. As the Earth passes through this trail of material, it ‘picks up’ several of these pieces that fall into the atmosphere. Most meteors are so small that they burn up as soon as they enter the atmosphere. However, a handful will pass through, and the remnant is what we know as a meteor. These objects are moving extremely fast, even at 50 kilometers per second, compared to the relatively calm atmosphere. They fall so fast that the air in front of them can’t move away fast enough, but instead heats up; this causes the meteorite’s surface to reach temperatures of up to 1,600°C, glowing intensely, which is visible as a short-lived beam of light in the sky.


The origin of the Lyrids

The Lyrids, whose radiant is the constellation Lyra -which contains the star Vega-, are created by the debris of comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher (in honor of its discoverer, the American amateur astronomer AE Thatcher) whose sighting records go back to 2,700 years, when in 687 BC Chinese astronomers documented seeing meteors “fall like rain.” This comet completes one revolution around the sun every 415 years and the last time Comet Thatcher was seen from Earth, according to records, was in April 1861. On this journey around the sun, the comet enters the orbit of La Earth once a year . It will not pass so close to our planet again until the year 2276. It is one of the oldest meteor showers in history.

If you find a place to watch the meteor shower away from cities with light pollution, street lights and house lights, that is, a dark place and away from the cities, you may be lucky and see some. If you see that the Moon has already risen, simply look away from it so that you are not dazzled. Turn your back.

All the meteors come roughly parallel to each other, like lanes on a straight highway. Our perspective makes them appear to travel sideways through the sky. Although the meteors appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Lyra, they will streak across the sky in all directions. However, it will look better in the northern hemisphere than in the southern hemisphere, since the radiant rises high in the sky after midnight.

If you are left wanting more, on April 16 there is a full moon, which will be, on this occasion, the Pink Moon, although you will not see it in this hue; Its name comes from the plants of the genus wild land phlox , a pink flower, usually blooms in April.


Reference: International Meteor Organization (IMO)

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