Meteor showers to light up the night sky again after a spring break
Since the beginning of January, when we were able to observe the Quadrantids in the night sky, there has been no significantly active meteor shower. This so-called spring meteor break ends in the last decade of April. During these days, we can observe Lyrids and Eta Aquariids in the night sky.
On Thursday, April 22, the meteor shower Lyrids, which is related to the periodic comet P/Thatcher, will reach its peak activity. Its orbital period is 415 years. The first record of the observation of the Lyrid meteor shower dates back to 687 BC. "This phenomenon lasts less than a week, which means that the current width is small. The central fibre is only 200,000 km long,” said Ján Svoreň from the Astronomical Institute SAS.
The Lyrid meteor shower will be active until April 25. During the peak activity, the Moon will be 2 days after the first quarter. Due to the height of the radiant above the horizon, there will be better conditions for observation in the second half of the night.
Additionally to the Lyrids, we can also observe the meteor shower Eta Aquariids, which is related to the periodic Halley's Comet starting from today to May 12. The first records in Chinese, Korean and Japanese chronicles of their observations are from 401 AD. At that time, the orbit of Halley's Comet was much closer to the orbit of Earth than it is today.
Eta Aquariids belong to the nine main meteor showers. They are fast, their geocentric speed is 64 km/s. "This is because Halley's Comet, and, of course, the meteors escaping from it, orbit the Sun in orbit in the opposite direction of our Earth orbiting the Sun," explained the astronomer. The width of meteoroids reaches 56 million km, and we will be able to observe up to 10 meteors per hour in the northern hemisphere during the peak frequency activity.
Radiant of Eta Aquariids is located near the star eta in the constellation Aquarius. The conditions for observation in 2021 are favourable. The moonlight shall disturb only minimally, since, on the day of the peak activity on May 6, the Moon will be 3 days after the last quarter. We will see most of the meteors in the morning sky before sunrise.
Edited by Katarína Gáliková
Foto: archiv Astronomical Institute SAS