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Lyrid Meteor Shower 2014: Perfect for Little Scientists!

Lyrid Meteor ShowerA Lyrid meteor captured by NASA astronaut Don Pettit out the window of the International Space Station on April 21, 2012. Via Universe Today.)

Ever since we visited the Hayden Planetarium in December, the munchkin has been fascinated by space. And while this morning’s blood moon happened behind a cloudy sky here in Vermont, fingers crossed we won’t miss the annual Lyrid meteor shower.

What are Lyrid Meteors?

Lyrid meteors come from the comet Thatcher. Every year in late April our planet crosses Thatcher’s orbital path and debris from the comet bombards our upper atmosphere at around 110,000 miles per hour. As these bits of rubble blaze through the night sky they get so hot that they vaporize, producing light in the process. Sometimes these streaks of light are called “shooting stars,” but they’re really meteors. There’s actually a great song about this by “They Might Be Giants,” which is currently on heavy rotation in the munchkin’s playlist. :)

When Should We Look Up?

This year the Lyrid shower is going to be visible between the 16th – 25th of April, though it is supposed to peak overnight on the 22nd sometime between 12AM-3AM. Light from the quarter moon may wash out some of the meteors in terms of visibility, but I’m thinking this will still be cool enough to justify a special “staying up late” occasion for the munchkin (especially since it’s going to be school vacation that week!). The Lyrids usually display around 20 meteors per hour and the brightest ones will still be visible. So, if it’s a clear night out, we’re breaking out a picnic blanket in the backyard along with a thermos of hot chocolate and some snacks.

Where to Look:

Lyrid Meteor Shower 2014: Perfect for Little Scientists!

According to EarthSky.org, the focal point of the Lyrid meteor shower will be near the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra the Harp. If you need help orienting yourself in the night sky, we love the iPhone app Star Chart, which shows you the constellations when you point your phone at the sky!


4 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Hello,
    I saw your website and just loved it! I love seeing how you capture sweet moments of life from food to experiments and art. Please visit The Candid Nation and follow on Google+ and/or Facebook. Thanks!

  • I am so happy to have found your site. I am constantly looking for activities, games, books and music for my 6 year old and the students in my family child care home. Love that you talk about watching this lurid meteor shower! Glad I found it in time, too! My students and I just started a study on stars and this would be a great home to school connection project, as they could watch this with their parents. I’m keen to break out a blanket to watch with my 6 year old, but how do you keep 4 yo’s and 6 yo’s up long enough to see it? Do you have any tips? I am thinking of letting him go to bed at his usual 8 pm bedtime and waking him up closer to 1am or 2am. I would really like to give this a try bc we missed the red moon since we were not in LA at the time and where were in he south was too much cloud cover to see it.

    • Hi Brittie! So glad you found us too. To answer your question: the munchkin is a night owl by nature and if he naps during the day he’ll usually be up until at least 10. No matter what I do, he just wants to read books. So if we’re going to be star gazing I’ll just try and get him to nap later in the day, then he’s usually fine staying up late. Of course I can’t do this too often or it will catch up with him, but every now and then in the name of science is ok if you ask me. :)