Apr 21 2012

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‘3-D’ Lyrid Meteor Shower: Up All Night NASA Chat – TONIGHT 11pm to 5am EDT

A Lyrid meteor in night skies over Nantucket, Mass. A Lyrid meteor crosses the night skies over Nantucket, Mass. (Copyright Greg Hinson. All rights reserved, used with permission.)

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Composite image of the 2009 Lyrids over Huntsville, Ala. Composite of 2009 Lyrids over Huntsville, Ala. (NASA/MSFC/Danielle Moser)
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More Information
Link: All Sky Camera Network
NASA News: Meteors
Wikipedia: Lyrids In 2011 the bright moon overshadowed visibility for many meteor showers, but now Lady Luna has decided to share the stellar stage. For the 2012 Lyrid meteor shower, a new moon will set darker skies that are ideal for meteor watching from the ground. As an exciting twist, NASA hopes to add two new viewing dimensions to this year’s Lyrids watching, producing a “3-D” experience both from the ground and above Earth.

If you’re looking for a fun way to spend an early spring weekend, make plans to stay “up all night” with NASA experts to watch the Lyrids brighten the skies. On Saturday, April 21, from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. EDT — convert to your local time here — meteor experts Dr. Bill Cooke, Danielle Moser and Rhiannon Blaauw from NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center will answer your questions about the Lyrids via a live Web chat. More About the Chat Experts

Bill Cooke
Danielle Moser
Rhiannon Blaauw

Joining the chat is easy. Simply return to this page a few minutes before 11 p.m. EDT on Saturday, April 21. The chat module will appear at the bottom of this page. After you log in, wait for the chat module to be activated, then ask your questions!

The Lyrid meteor shower will be viewable all over the world, with best rates seen just before dawn at the location where you’re watching the skies. The Lyrids are very unpredictable, with peak meteor rates between 10-100 per hour. This year Dr. Cooke estimates that the rate will be around 15 per hour, though he is hoping for a surprise increase above this!

Lyrids Viewed From Above!

Balloon-cam! In addition to live meteor camera views from the ground, astronomers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. and Dr. Tony Phillips of Science@NASA are teaming up to seek a new dimension for Lyrid viewing. Dr. Phillips and a dozen students from Union High School and Home Street Middle School in Bishop, Calif., will launch a video camera on a balloon above Earth’s surface on the night of the Lyrids peak — hopefully to capture brilliant meteors burning up in the atmosphere from a vantage point well above the clouds.

International Space Station! As the Space Station passes over North America multiple times on the night of April 21st, a network of all-sky cameras — some operated by amateur astronomers and others by NASA — will be recording the shower. Astronaut Don Pettit will also set up cameras inside the International Space Station, even as its external video cameras will point towards Earth in an attempt to capture Lyrids from space. Cooke is hoping the effort will produce simultaneous space/ground imagery of one or more meteors, which can be used to test ideas and algorithms for processing data gathered by future space-based meteor observatories.

Watch the Lyrids on Ustream!

A live video feed of the Lyrid meteor shower will be embedded on this page on the night of the Web chat, and there will be alternate allsky views being streamed from this allsky camera network.

More About the Lyrids

Lyrids are pieces of debris from the periodic Comet C/1861 G1 Thatcher and have been observed for more than 2,600 years. In mid-April of each year, Earth runs into the stream of debris from the comet, which causes the Lyrid meteor shower. You can tell if a meteor belongs to a particular shower by tracing back its path to see if it originates near a specific point in the sky, called the radiant. The constellation in which the radiant is located gives the shower its name, and in this case, Lyrids appear to come from a point in the constellation Lyra.

Janet Anderson, 256-544-0034
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

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