WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Star parties, Lyrid meteor shower start the weekend

Posted April 19
Updated April 21

The Lyrid meteor shower peaks the morning of April 22

The Lyrid meteor shower is underway through April 25, peaking early during the morning of Saturday Apr 22.  Partly cloudy skies are expected, but the thin waning crescent moon will greatly reduce light interference, making more meteors visible.

The Lyrids differ from other meteor showers because many of the meteors leave a persistent train. Glowing trails of ionized gas remains visible a few seconds after the meteor has passed through the atmosphere at 30 miles per second.

Fifteen to 20 meteors per hour are forecasted at the shower’s peak. While no outburst is expected this year, they have been observed in the past. In 1982, an outburst of 100 Lyrid meteors per hour was observed.

The Lyrid meteor shower is named for Lyra, a small constellation above Cygnus the Swan. The meteors appear to radiate from the constellation, as Earth passes through the trail of debris left by comet C/1861 G1 (Thatcher), which last visited our neighborhood in 1861

To see the meteor shower, look to the darkest part of the eastern sky after midnight. Though the Lyrics appear to come from Lyra, meteors can appear anywhere in the sky. The radiant point will continue to rise, increasing your chance to seeing meteors until the show peaks in the hours before sunrise.

Get your Star Party on

The North Carolina Science Festival wraps up this weekend with the Statewide Star Party, one of the largest events of its kind in the world. 50 sites in total will host observing sessions where you can view the night (and in some cases day) sky through telescopes with the help of knowledgeable hosts as well as hands-on activities for all ages.  A few Lyrids meteors might be visible as well.

Friday, April 21

Noon-2pm at Umstead State Park in Raleigh (solar viewing)
6:30 pm - 10:30 pm at the American Tobacco Trail in Apex
7:00 pm - 10:00 pm at the Eno River at Fews Ford in Durham
7:00 pm - 10:00 pm at Falls Lake in Wake Forest, hosted by NC State's Astrophysics
7:30 pm - 9:30 pm at Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh
8:00 pm - 10:30 pm at Little River Park in Rougemont
8:00 pm - 10:30 pm at Wilkerson Nature Preserve in Raleigh
8:30 pm - 10:30 pm at Old North Durham Park in Durham
8:30 pm - 11:00 pm at Prarie Ridge in Raleigh
9:00 pm - 11:00 pm at the Duke Teaching Observatory in Durham

Saturday, April 22

11:00 am to 4:00 pm at the UNC Expo in Chapel Hill (solar viewing)
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm at White Deer Park in Garner
8:30 pm to 10:30 pm at Jordan Lake Ebenezer Church Recreation Area in Apex

More information including maps is available on the festival's Star Party website.

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