2017 Lyrids

A meteor shower that stands out against the relatively low springtime meteor rates

Main Activity Dates Apr 18 – 25
Peak Rates Apr 22d 11h UT
Peak ZHR 15-20
Best Observed Rates Between midnight and dawn on Apr 22
Visibility each night (UK) Visible all night
Moonlight issues at Maximum Minor – Last Quarter is on April 19th

Background meteor rates are generally low for northern hemisphere based observers during the first half of the year. The Lyrids stand out above this. The peak ZHR is normally ~15-20, but short-lived, more active bursts have been recorded sometimes, most recently in 1982 (when ZHRs were ~90). Lyrid meteors are typically medium to swift speed. The parent body is Comet Thatcher of 1861 (whose orbital period is about 415 years).

In 2017, Lyrid maximum is predicted for approx 11h UT on April 22. From the UK, the best rates are likely to be seen between midnight and dawn on April 22. With the Lyrid peak being broader than that of the Quadrantids, the daytime prediction for the peak is less detrimental to observed rates in the preceding morning skies.

Good news is that the Moon will be a waning crescent and won’t rise until after 03h local time on April 22. Thus moonlight interference should be minimal for the 2017 Lyrid peak.

The Lyrid radiant (see chart below), lies on the Hercules-Lyra border at the peak (and not quite as near Vega as some people expect). It is low in the sky at the start of the night and gains altitude as the night progresses, leading to increasing observed rates. The chart below shows how it has climbed well clear of the horizon and is quite high in the eastern sky by the early hours of the morning.

Lyrid radiant
Lyrid radiant