The April Lyrid Meteor Shower is active between April 14 and April 30 every year. This year our event coincides with the peak of the shower on the evening of 22 April. The peak continues into the pre-dawn hours of 23 April.
Astrophotographer Mark Lissick took the photograph of the Lyrid meteors and the Milky Way, on April 22, 2013, in Hope Valley, California (near Lake Tahoe).
(Image credit: Mark Lissick/Wildlight Nature Photography)
The radiant of the meteor shower is located in the constellation Lyra, near this constellation's brightest star, Vega. It is the oldest recorded Meteor Shower and according to some historical Chinese texts, the shower was seen over 2,500 years ago; no other modern shower has been recorded as far back in time. The source of the meteor shower is particles of dust shed by the long-period Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher, which takes about 415 years to orbit around the Sun. The comet is expected to be visible from Earth again in 2276.
The April Lyrids are the strongest annual shower of meteors from debris of a long-period comet, mainly because as far as other intermediate long-period comets go (200–10,000 years) this one has a relatively short orbital period. Counts typically range from 5 to 20 meteors per hour, averaging around 10. As a result of light pollution, observers in rural areas will see more than observers in a city. Nights without a moon in the sky will reveal the most meteors so this year it is pretty good with the phase of the Moon being only 3 days after New Moon and therefore only 6.7% illuminated. April Lyrid meteors are usually quite bright at around magnitude +2. However, some meteors can be brighter; known as "Lyrid fireballs", they can cast shadows for a split second and leave behind smokey debris trails that last minutes.
While we don't use the telescopes to spot meteors, if the weather does permit viewing you will get a chance to look at some other interesting celestial objects through the large telescopes.
The evening aims to be both informal and informative with a talk presented by a guest speaker. Following the talk, if the weather is nice and clear you will have the opportunity to try and spot some fast moving meteors with the unaided eye and look through the telescopes at other interesting celestial objects. If the weather is unsuitable for viewing, the talk will go ahead regardless and a comprehensive tour of the telescopes will replace viewing. On the tour you will be taken into domes not open to the public during the day. We do NOT cancel this event if the weather is unsuitable for viewing.
PLEASE NOTE: Gates open at 6.30pm and the talk will be at 9pm. All the exhibits will be available for you to explore when you arrive. While you don't need to arrive at 6.30pm the gates will be closed at 8pm so please arrive before then.
If you wish to purchase hot food on the night then our Launch Box will be open from 6.30pm - 9pm before the talk starts. The Launch Box serves:
Burger & Fries
Falafel Burger & Fries
Frankfurter Hot Dog & Fries
Food will only be available from the Launch Box between 6.30pm and 9pm. The cafe will also be open for hot/cold drinks and snacks plus alcoholic beverages.
Numbers are limited to 100 (age 18+ only), so book early to secure your place.
You may book online using Paypal or over the phone. To make a booking over the phone using a credit or debit card please telephone 01323 832731 to secure your place(s).
If you are looking for a present then a Gift Ticket package is available for this event and can be purchased from our online shop.
Suitable for adults only
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The Observatory Science Centre is part of Science Projects Ltd, a company limited by guarantee registered in England No: 02186073 and a registered charity No: 298542. The registered office is 3 – 15 Stirling Road, Acton, London. W3 8DJ. UK.