Jason Kendall
William Paterson University
Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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Lyrids Meteor Shower
April 21-22, 2010: LATE NIGHT into the early morning...

It's an early morning event, with meteors visible after 2:00 AM EST on the 22nd. The show begins after 10:00 PM on the 21st, with the best time to view between 2:00 AM and 4:00 AM on the 22nd. There have already been sightings of good Lyrids in our Park.

Every year in late April, Earth passes through the dusty tail of comet Thatcher. The brief encounter causes a meteor shower called the Lyrids, named after the constellation Lyra. Lyrid meteors often leave behind smoky, bright trails that can linger in the night sky for minutes.

Weather permitting, the best time to watch the Lyrids meteor shower will be during the dark hours before dawn (your local time) on April 22. Sky watchers in rural areas should be able to spot a meteor every few minutes. Don't worry about bringing binoculars or a telescope to observe Lyrid meteors, the naked eye is all you need!

The Lyrids usually produce about 15 to 20 visible meteors per hour at their peak. Uncommon surges can sometimes bring the rate up to 100 per hour, but these rare outbursts are not easy to predict. That's one of the reasons why the Lyrids are worth watching. The only way to know for sure is to go outside and look up!

The Lyrid meteor shower is best viewed from the northern hemisphere. Southern observers as far south as -30 degrees latitude will spot some Lyrids, but probably no more than a sprinkling.

The best location to view the meteors in New York City is here.


Click here to see if it is cloudy or clear tonight.

General Information

Contrary to the keen video above, it's the Lyrid Meteor Shower!!!

Watch little meteors dash across the night sky, exploding in cosmic fire. We stay out after midnight in the Park and up on the hilltop during the most famous of all meteor showers. Bring coffee, a heavy coat, and a lawn chair. It is a great time just to look up and watch them buzz on by. Maybe you'll see a meteor burst overhead as it tumbles all the way to Earth!

We will be making a night of it on April 21st into the morning of the 22nd. They are up late, with the best viewing starting at 2:00 AM on the 22nd. We won't arrive until 11:00 PM at the earliest. It will be a very late night, going until pre-dawn hours. It is all weather-permitting, with no rain date. I will post on this website if we are a go or no, so check in frequently right here. You can also gauge our chances looking at the Current Weather and the Clear Sky Clock links at the top of the page. For the exact location of where we will meet, scroll to the bottom of this page.

This is a no-alcohol, no-noise, family-friendly event.

What to bring

Assume that it will be very cold. Bring something to sit upon, the best is a lawn chair, where you can look straight up. A beach towel is not enough, since the ground up there will be cold and uneven. A tarp down first is OK. Wear heavy outdoor gear. Please do not bring alcoholic beverages. The parks people will shut it down instantly if they see that. Also, since we are in the park after midnight, it will be a quiet party. iPods with Hearts of Space or Blue Mars are perfect. If you bring a flashlight, please make sure you color the lens red or put red cellophane over it so all can preserve everyone's night vision. If you have a small telescope or binoculars, please bring it. The cold Spring overhead skies are gorgeous, and if we are lucky, we'll see more than just meteors.

Again, this is a no-alcohol, no-noise, family-friendly event.

What Is a Meteor Shower?

In the meantime, here are some links to help you learn about meteor showers and what to expect. You'll notice that the dates range a bit, but we are going with NASA's estimate. Please go to the calendar page to add it to your Google Calendar.

The American Meteor Society always has good information. http://www.amsmeteors.org/showers.html

StarDate from McDonald Observatory has a good writeup about observing them. Also, they have a daily webcast program on astronomy that is pretty cool. http://stardate.org/nightsky/meteors.

Location

Our location will be the best place to see meteors in Manhattan. This "Forever Wild" park has no streetlamps and we are 200 feet above the city lights below. Dark and wonderful, it is a great way to experience the night sky right near home. About an hour before sunset -- call the hotline after 7:00 PM for the exact time -- we will meet at the park entrance at Payson and Beak Streets. We always wait about 15 minutes for people before walking up. Along the way, we will mark the path with white chalk every 20-30 feet for latecomers. For those that do arrive late, go to Beak and Payson Streets. You wlll see signs and chalk markings on the path. It is about a 250-yard walk to the top. It always ends up being cooler than you think, so please bring a lawn chair, heavy outdoor gear, a flashlight with a red gel. To arrive by subway, take the "A" train to the last 200th Street/Dyckman Street stop. Walk towards the Park on Dyckman Street (go West) and take a right on Seaman Street. Go up the Hill to Beak Street, and take a left. The entrance is right there.

Please Click On and print out the Trail Map below. Also, view it in Google Maps.

View Large Area and Street Map on Google Maps



About Jason Kendall

I am currently adjunct faculty at William Paterson University teaching astronomy. I hold a Master of Science in Astronomy from New Mexico State University. I am also a board member of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. Since 2008, I have led the Inwood Astronomy Project which brought over 200 events of stargazing and public astronomy outreach to upper Manhattan, including the historic Inwood Star Fest, where Inwood Hill Park lights were turned off as part of the 100 Hours of Astronomy event in IYA2009. This was the first time in New York City history when park lights were turned off for an astronomy event. I've also focused on park safety due to an uptick in sexual assaults in Washington Heights and Inwood during 2011. I've worked to make our parks safer by encouraging public use of parks at night through night-time events with Park Rangers. I have led numerous "starwatching parties" and astronomy events in New York City, New Mexico, Minnesota, New Jersey, Connecticut and Texas. I am also proud to have been part of the NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador Program from 2009 to 2012. It all started way back in the fourth grade by the encouragement of two noted astronomers, Charles Schweighauser and Bart Bok. I saw Saturn through Charlie's telescope at then Sangamon State University on a clear Illinois night, and Bart encouraged me under those stars to study hard to come visit him at Kitt Peak National Observatory. I finally did make it down there about a decade after Bart passed away, and I found the favorite spots in Tucson, Arizona, where Bart and his wife Priscilla would spend when they were not gazing at the stars. Bart and his wife were pioneers in the study of the Milky Way, and their studies of the starforming regions called Bok Globules. It's even in my family. My great-grandfather was a Midwestern minister who used to preach his sermons out under the dark, cloudless nights. He always believed that getting out and experiencing the wonders of the natural world was a central part of being human. My family has always been inspired by his words: "We look up to look within." I hope that you'll join me under the stars or at one of my talks.

Come see what's up in the sky!

Jason Kendall

We look up to look within

William Paterson University Department of Physics American Astronomical Society Astronomical Society of the Pacific Amateur Astronomers Association of New York

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