'3-D' Lyrid Meteor Shower: Up All Night NASA Chat
In 2011 the bright moon overshadowed visibility for many meteor showers, but for the 2012 Lyrid meteor shower, a new moon set darker skies that were 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.
On Saturday, April 21, meteor experts Dr. Bill Cooke, Danielle Moser and Rhiannon Blaauw from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center answered your questions about the Lyrids via a live Web chat.
› Chat Transcript (PDF, 574 Kb)
Lyrids Viewed From Above!
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.
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
More About the Chat Experts
Janet Anderson, 256-544-0034
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.