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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

 

The 2015 Australian Lyrid Meteor Shower, Morning 23 April

The morning sky looking north as seen from Brisbane at 5:00 am AEST on April 23. The Lyrid radiant is marked with a yellow cross. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at an equivalent local time. The radiant will be higher in northern Australia, and lower in southern Australia (click to embiggen). 

The Lyrids, the debris of comet C/1861 G1 (Thatcher) are a weak but reliable shower that occurs every year between April 16- April 25, with the peak this year around 24 hrs UT on April 22 .

That's  around 10 am 23 April in east coast Australia, the radiant doesn't rise until 1 am on the 23rd, so the best time to view the Lyrids in Australia is from 4 am on the 23rd. 

The predicted ZHR this year is 18 meteors per hour. This means that under ideal conditions, you will see a meteor on average about once every three minutes. This can be as interesting as watching paint dry. Also, while that meteor every three minutes is the average, meteors are like buses, you wait for ages and then a whole bunch turn up. In Australia, the rate is even less, around 4-5 meteors an hour in Northern Australia. For southern Australia, the rate is even lower.

The predicted ZHR this year is 18 meteors per hour. This means that under ideal conditions, you will see a meteor on average about once every three minutes. This can be as interesting as watching paint dry. Also, while that meteor every three minutes is the average, meteors are like buses, you wait for ages and then a whole bunch turn up.
 
The rate is actually less than the ZHR, ZHR means Zenithal Hourly Rate, the number of meteors you could expect to see if the radiant (the apparent position where the meteors originate) was at the highest point of the sky, under dark sky conditions.

Of course under real conditions the Lyrids radiant will not rise that high for most places, and most places won't have really dark skies. The lower the radiant is, the thicker atmosphere will obscure the fainter meteors, and some of the meteors will start to "burn" below the horizon, so over all you will see fewer.

This is particularly true in Australia, where the radiant is very low to the horizon. In Australia the radiant rises about 1 am local time, but it is not really high enough for there to be any real chance of seeing meteors until around 4 am, when the radiant is between three handspans to four handspans above the horizon (see diagram above). The Moon has long set, so Moonlight is not a factor this year..

From Australia, at 4 am, under dark sky conditions, we will see between 3 meteors per hour (southern states) to 4-5 meteors per hour (Northern Territory and QLD).


 If you want to see what the rates will be like at your area, try the Meteor Flux Estimator. The illustration shows the output for dark sky sites in Brisbane.

Choose 6 April Lyrids from the drop down meteor shower Menu, the date (make sure that you set the year to 2015, and your location, most people will have to put in their latitude and longitude (strangely, Adelaide, Brisbane, Darwin and Perth are listed in the drop down menu, but Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart are not) under "other" in the location box.

This will give you a chart of the numbers of meteors per hour you can expect at various times (see image to the left).

The Lyrids are pretty poor in Australia, but if you are patient you may see the occasional meteor shooting up from below the horizon.

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Comments:
Thanks so much for this info. There is no other local info on the Internet quite as informative as your blog
i was going to head out of Town in the early am to see them, (23rd) however , now I feel it may not even be worth it... But this has been super helpful.
 
Agreed, I was going to stay up (as I am up writing a report) but I think I'll go to bed instead ;)
 
Hi, We were on the East Coast Australia, near Byron Bay and saw perhaps 7-8 meteors from around 3:30- 4:30 this morning. When you're not expecting anything this was really something…very beautiful to witness.
 
I seen one in lakesland, nsw about 5:34pm today 27/04/15. I thought it was a plane on fire and crashing. My children were puzzled as to what it was... it was weird... never seen anything like it!
 
it was the most amazing meteor I have ever seen in the sky last night. north west of Maryborough Q.L.D.
 
it hit the atmosphere an looked like a welding flash and split into at least 4 pieces
 
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