Posts Tagged ‘shower’


April showers of the Lyrid kind

April 17, 2013

by yaska77

Beginning now until the 25th of this month we see the April Lyrid meteor shower (peaking on April 22nd before dawn). The meteors in this shower tend to be bright and leave persistent trails as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

In recent years the shower has seen anything from 10 to 20 meteors per hour.


We caught this Perseid meteor flashing across the night sky in August 2012, so we’re hoping to have clear skies for the Lyrids! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Although that might sound like a fairly mediocre “shower”, it has been known for the Lyrids to surge to over 100 per hour! This is what makes this shower so difficult to predict. How many will we see?

Will it be a downpour of shooting stars or a washout this year!?

Lyrid Meteor Radiant 22.04.2013 01.00UTC

Although the meteors will seem to originate from Lyra, they can appear all over the sky. Shown above at 01:00 UTC (02:00 BST) on 22nd April just at the start of the peak (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Lyrid meteors originate from a radiant point in the constellation of Lyra which is where this shower gets its name. The best time to look for Lyrid meteors is late in the evening after 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST) however, the waxing gibbous Moon will still be in the sky until the early hours so its light may wash out the fainter meteors.


Another Perseid from August 2012, this one has more definition to the shape at the end of the streak and is seen heading away from the Andromeda galaxy (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Don’t let this deter you though, the unpredictable nature of the Lyrid shower is what makes it worth watching so we hope you have clear skies!

Now we’ve expressed an interest we’re expecting it to be cloudy, but amateur astronomers are nothing if not optimistic 🙂


A good year to watch the Draconid meteor shower

October 6, 2011

by tte-77

Taken from yaska77’s Astronomy Events – October 2011 post.

Saturday 8th OctoberThe annual Draconid meteor shower (also known as the Giacobinids) should reach its peak this evening (the height of activity expected between 16:00 and 22:00 UTC/GMT), with calculations suggesting we could be in for an outstanding display. The ZHR (Zenithal Hourly Rate) could range from a few tens of meteors per hour to several hundred

Here is a little extra on the Draconid meteor shower to help with locating Draco the Dragon, the Dragon’s eyes and the showers radiant point.

The Draconid meteor shower is an amazing cosmic phenomenon - Credit:

The Draconid meteor shower is an amazing cosmic phenomenon - Credit:

The Draconid meteor shower generally favours northerly latitudes. The best viewing of the meteors will mostly be at early to mid evening on Saturday 8th October – this is when the radiant point for the shower located in the constellation Draco the Dragon will be highest in the sky for that night. The most meteors tend to fall when radiant point is highest in the sky.

Although it is not essential to identify the meteor shower radiant to watch the Draconids as they streak all over the sky, doing so does allow you to trace the paths of the meteors backward – you will notice how they appear to radiate from the Dragon’s head!

See the image below to locate the Dragon’s eyes. Locate the two brightest stars in the constellation (Eltanin and Rastaban) to see the radiant point of the Draconid meteor shower.


The sky at 20:00 UTC/GMT 8th October 2011 showing the constellation of Draco to the north west (click to enlarge) - Credit: Stellarium/Sky-Watching

The radiant will fall downward during the night reaching its lowest point around dawn, as seen from all points in the northern hemisphere.

So from early to mid evening on Saturday will probably provide the greatest number of meteors with the 2011 shower possibly producing a meteor storm of several hundred meteors per hour at its peak! The best locations are said to be Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The one downside is that in the south there will be a bright moon with its light possibly affecting the view of the shower.

Get outside if you get a chance and go view!


Perseid meteor shower – next 24 hours

August 10, 2011

by tte-77

skywatching Perseid meteor shower

Best view of Perseid meteors could be before dawn 10-11 August

Although the actual peak date of the Perseid meteor shower will be 12-13 August (as mentioned in our August Astronomy Events post) the best time to watch the Perseid meteor shower might actually be today – Wednesday 10 August, during the dawn hours into Thursday.

At their peak, the Perseids commonly produce 50 or more meteors per hour – when the moon is out-of-the-way. This year, however, the full moon will shine from dusk till dawn on the peak night wiping out all but the brightest Perseid meteors. With this in mind working around the moon to optimize the view of the Perseids (summertime’s premier meteor shower) is probably the best call.

The best time will probably come in the next 24 hours dependent on your location.

At mid-northern latitudes in Europe the moon will set between 1am and 2am. The moon’s precise setting time, however, depends on where you reside within your time zone! Checkout the moonrise section at to check what is best for you.

Generally, you see the greatest number of Perseids in the hours before dawn (even on a totally moonless night). Given a dark, open sky away from pesky city lights, you might see 15-20 Perseid meteors per hour.

Although the predawn sky may present the best view of the 2011 Perseid shower, that won’t stop die-hard meteor enthusiasts from watching the Perseids starting now and throughout the weekend!

Good luck!


Astronomy Events – August 2011

July 30, 2011

by yaska77

Strap yourself in for the latest edition of our monthly posts, listing upcoming Astronomy events for August! The British skies have been particularly cloudy of late, which means our telescopes are sat under a layer of soft downy dust, so we’re hoping for clearer (and warmer) nights in August!

Monday 1st August – With the Moon still virtually absent after the new Moon of 30th July, it’s a prime time to spot Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd as it starts its pass of globular cluster M15 over the next couple of nights (it will be visible all month in the constellation Pegasus). The comet will reach a maximum solar elongation of 149 degrees on 8th August. Click here for related NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day (from 27th July)

Tuesday 2nd August – Moon at Perigee (365,760 km)

Thursday 4th August – The planet-esque asteroid Vesta might just be visible to the naked eye if your skies are dark enough (certainly with binoculars). At around mag 5.48 at its brightest (the lower the mag the brighter the object appears from Earth), it will stay in Capricornus throughout August, following the diagonal line of the brightest stars at the bottom of the constellation (as the month progresses)

Vesta in the constellation Capricornus - Southern sky 4th August 2011 (00:00 GMT/ 01:00 BST) - Credit: Stellarium/Sky-Watching (Click to enlarge)

Sunday 7th August – Jupiter (in Aries) is the bright object high up in the east by midnight. For those up later Mars rises at 01:00 GMT (02:00 BST ), drawing a line to Jupiter straight through the middle of the constellation Taurus

Friday 12th August – The Perseid meteor shower starts 2 evenings of peak activity tonight, although tomorrow’s Full Moon will wash out a lot of the weaker meteors. With an expected ZHR (Zenithal Hourly Rate) of 100 however you should still be able to catch the brighter ones as they blaze a trail across the sky

Perseid Meteor Radiant guide - Northern sky 13th August 2011 (21:00 GMT/22:00 BST) - Credit: Stellarium/Sky-Watching (Click to enlarge)

Saturday 13th August – The Full Moon this evening is also known as the Barley Moon and apparently tells of the ripening crops of summer! Second peak night for the Perseid meteor shower, look to the north towards the W shaped constellation of Cassiopeia

Tuesday 16th August – Venus in superior conjunction, meaning the planet is too close to the Sun to see this month

Wednesday 17th August – Mercury is in inferior conjunction, so along with Venus is lost in the daylight

Our first CCD capture of Saturn, we'll have to wait a while until we can try again! - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn (Click to enlarge)

Thursday 18th August – Moon at Apogee (405,160 km). Saturn will soon be leaving our night skies, but should still just be visible low down in the west soon after sunset

Monday 22nd August – Neptune at opposition in Aquarius, the planet will be visible to the south east rising at dusk, being followed across the sky by Uranus, appearing over the eastern horizon after 20:00 GMT (21:00 BST)

The Moon flanked by Mars and Jupiter - Eastern sky 23rd August 2011 (02:00 GMT/03:00 BST) - Credit: Stellarium/Sky-Watching (Click to enlarge)

Tuesday 23rd August – Early risers (or those up late!) will be able to see the dawn Moon in the Taurus constellation flanked by Mars and Jupiter above the eastern horizon. Orion is also making a welcome re-appearce to our skies, with the red supergiant Betelgeuse rising about the same time as Mars

Monday 29th August – New Moon. If your skies are clear tonight the absence of moon glare make observing deep sky objects (like nebulae and galaxies) easier

Tuesday 30th August – Moon at Perigee (360,860 km)

Should the weather allow we’re targeting Comet Garradd and maybe the Perseid meteor shower for imaging this month.  We’ve been particularly unlucky with regards to night clouds in recent weeks, so surely it’s about time we got a break!

Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!

We recently added the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right (where this guide will appear), so next time you visit you can find it again easily!

Guide images created with Stellarium

Astronomy Events – July 2011
Astronomy Events – June 2011

Astronomy Events – May 2011


Set a reminder – Draconid meteor shower in October

July 5, 2011

by tte-77

An amazing cosmic phenomenon - Credit:

Canadian astronomer Paul Wiegert announced at a meeting of professional astronomers in Canada that the annual Draconid meteor shower might produce unusually high peak meteor rates of 1,000 per hour on 8 October, 2011!

Update posted 6th October. Click here to read about locating and viewing the Draconids.

An astronomer at the University of Western Ontario, Paul Wiegerts specialty is solar system dynamics – conducting numerical analyses of the way objects in our solar system move especially smaller bodies like asteroids, comets and meteoroid streams.

Like most meteors in annual showers, any fiery Draconid meteors seen streaking across the night sky actually started in a meteoroid stream in space – a river of icy, rocky debris left behind in the orbit of a comet. The Draconid shower originates from the comet Giacobini-Zinner.

Known for over 100 years, the Giacobini-Zinner comet takes about 6.6 years to orbit our sun once. Astronomer Paul Wiegert, having analysed the movement of Giacobini-Zinner and its meteoroid stream has determined that conditions will line up just right in 2011 enabling us to see a spectacular Draconid meteor shower.

Can’t wait for 8 October?

The peak of the shower is extremely narrow and should last for only one hour. The 2011 Draconid outburst is expected to occur between 17:00  and 18:00  Universal Time – let’s hope for at least a little bit of dark!

The best locations from which to view the primarily northern hemisphere event will be Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

One little drawback… maybe? The moon will be in a waxing gibbous phase on 8 October.  A large bright moon can (not will) drown out a meteor shower.

Fear not. The shower is expected to continue to produce meteors, albeit at a reduced level, into the evening of 8 October so later on in the evening will still have a chance to see a stronger-than-usual Draconid meteor shower.

Set a reminder, cross your fingers and have your cameras on the ready!


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