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How high up are meteors when they begin to “glow”? | Space | EarthSky April 13, 2013

Posted by aquillam in Astronomy.
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How high up are meteors when they begin to “glow”? | Space | EarthSky.

With the Lyrids about a week away, EarthSky has a nice article about when meteors begin to incandesce, and how that affects the character of the meteor shower.

Although typically and fairly light meteor shower (10 – 20 meteors per hour), the Lyrids have been known to produce an unexpected storm, with numbers in excess of 100 meteors per hour.

The Lyrids peak on April 22 this year. This shower usually has a pretty narrow peak, but it’s still worth checking out the day before and after (the shower is typically active from the 16th – 25). So check the weather forecast on the evening of April 20, 21, and 22, and if it should be clear in the hours before dawn, set your alarm. The Moon is a waxing gibbous, so you want to wait for it to set before going out. You also want to be out while it’s still dark, which means an hour before dawn.  For Ann Arbor, thats roughly 4 – 5 AM. You can get more precise times, and times for other locations from the USNO: http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.php.

Look for the bright star Vega, almost overhead. The meteors will appear to start from an area nearby, and fly away from it.

The Lyrid meteors appear to come from a spot near the bright star Vega.  Image created using Starry Night.

Location of the Lyrid radiant, in Lyra near Hercules.  Image created using Starry Night.

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