“During the night On April 22 2013, people on Earth will have a chance to see one of the rarest meteor shower. During the night you will be able to see thousands of these falling stars until April 23, 2013, these meteors will have best visibility during the night of April 22, 2013. There is a predicted number of about 20 meteors an hour with possible surges of 100 per hour.”
I’m all about spreading the news of meteor showers and getting people to go out and look up. Experiencing a meteor shower is quite enjoyable, and gives your kids a reason to stay up late and see something extraordinary. What I don’t like however, is the false alarm of it being “one of the rarest meteor showers” since it’s an annual occurrence making it not all that rare.
The Venus Transit last June was a rare event with it’s two occurrences in 8 years and then another 105 years until the next one with another 8 year spread before it takes 121 years for the next cycle; that’s a rare event.
The shower will actually peak on the night of April 21 into the morning of the 22nd, but you will have a chance to spot meteors in the days before and after the peak, between April 16, and April 26. The meteor shower is predicted to have between 5 and 20 meteors per hour with an average of 10 per hour. I admit the graphic floating around is enough to grab your interest and get you thinking about going out and giving it a look, but it also has the ability to leave people a little unimpressed with the outcome if it doesn’t have 20 per hour with surges of up to 100. In all honesty you may only see 1 or 2 an hour if you aren’t in dark enough skies since the fainter ones will be washed out by light pollution from nearby cities, and the bright moon. This meteor shower has had the rare – correct use of the term – chance of having surges of 50+ meteors per hour, but that is wishful thinking expecting it.
Now that I got that out, hopefully you still would like to try to get out under the night sky and give this meteor shower a shot. The radiant for this shower can be found in the constellation Lyra which rises in the northeast at about 10 p.m. There will be a waxing gibbous moon washing out the night sky to the west, which doesn’t set until the early morning hours, but you will still be able to catch the brighter ones while the moon is up. If you want to see them at their best you can wait until the moon has set, at about 3:00 a.m., in the morning of April 22 which is going to bring the greatest numbers of meteors in the dark hours just before dawn.
As far as what you need in order to see the meteors is a good dark sky, warm clothes, maybe a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, and some time to spend under the night sky. You don’t need binoculars or a telescope to see a meteor shower since meteors can be seen all over the sky.
Illustration by Bruce McClure and Joni Hall of EarthSky.org (via Wikimedia).