Lyrids Shooting Stars 2024
The April Lyrid Meteor Shower is active between about April 15 and April 29 every year. This year the peak of the shower is on the 22 April and 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. This time there will be a waxing gibbous moon only 4 days before full Moon so notideal as the Moon will be bright but still worth looking for! 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 7.00pm and the talk will be at 8.45pm. All the exhibits will be available for you to explore when you arrive. While you don't need to arrive at 7.00pm the gates will be closed at 8pm so please arrive before then.
Itinerary for the evening:
- 7.00pm: gates open (please arrive before 8pm). You will be issued with a coloured itineray and map. The colour denotes the group that you will be divided into for viewing after the talk.
- 7.00pm - 8.30pm: Food served from the Launch Box; drinks/snacks including a bar served from the cafe; time to explore the exhibits and the exhibitions. Astronomers will be based in the domes and while it will be too light to see anything through the telescopes you can go along and have a chat to them (bear in mind you will be going into the domes following the talk. Viewing is subject to weather).
- 8.45pm - 9.45pm: Talk
- 9.45 - 10.00pm: time to get into your groups
- 10.00pm - 12.30am: Groups will be taken to each area for viewing (weather permitting). You will be in each area for approximately 30 minutes before moving on to the next area (this will be clearly marked on your coloured itinerary).
- 12.30am: Centre closes
If you wish to purchase hot food on the night then our Launch Box will be open from 7.00pm - 8.30pm before the talk starts. The Launch Box serves:
- Burger & Fries
- Cheeseburger & Fries
- Falafel Burger & Fries
- Frankfurter Hot Dog & Fries
It makes it easier for us if you book food in advance. Please phone The Centre on 01323 832731 and you can pre-order food and pay using a debit or credit card. The cafe will also be open for hot/cold drinks and snacks plus alcoholic beverages. 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. Please check the online shop to purchase your Gift Ticket package. Gift Ticket terms and conditions can be found on our FAQs page
Suitable for adults only
Please wear warm clothing and sensible footwear. Our site is very dark and we keep lighting to a minimum to preserve night vision and make sure you have the best possible experience in terms of viewing the night sky. This inevitably means that there are areas that are dimly lit or very dark. With high walkways, ramps and steps throughout The Centre you need to take great care when moving around. Please bring a torch, preferably red light. We strongly encourage people not to use white light torches especially in the domes as this destroys night vision.
While the Centre makes every effort to accomodate wheel chair users and others with mobility issues, by virtue of the nature of the building (grade II* listed), the telescopes are accessed by steep narrow stairs and the tour of the Domes (with or without viewing) takes you into these domes. If you require further information please do not hesitate to get in touch.
If using Sat Nav, please use ‘Wartling Road’ and NOT our postcode.
PARKING: There is ample free parking on the grassed car park in front of The Centre.
If you are a blue badge holder, there are 5 parking bays available at the back of the science centre, adjacent to our ramped entrance. Please note that by virtue of the historic nature of the building, the domes are accessed by steep narrow stairs.
By booking this event you agree to abide by our refund/cancellation policy.
Please do not bring laser pointers into The Centre. Our staff and volunteers do use laser pointers as teaching aids but they adhere to strict rules and regulations about their use within The Centre and therefore they are controlled. Laser pointers can be dangerous especially if misused.
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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.