Saturday, April 21, 2012
The Lyrid Meteor Shower
The annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks this weekend on the night of April 21-22 when Earth passes through a stream of debris from ancient Comet Thatcher. Usually the shower is mild (10-20 meteors per hour) but unmapped filaments of dust in the comet's tail sometimes trigger outbursts ten times stronger. This year's peak coincides with a new Moon, so lunar interference will not be a problem. The promise of a good display has prompted NASA to plan an unusual 3D meteor photography experiment combining observations from the ground, a research balloon, and the International Space Station.