Astrophiles or lovers of the sky like us are in for a treat this month as there will be not just one but two meteor showers that will adorn the skies of April, along with other astronomical events that are worth watching out for.
April 2022 Astronomical Events
|April 1-5||Planetary Trio |
(Venus, Mars, and Saturn)
|April 5||Saturn passing |
0°19' N of Mars
|April 8||Moon at Apogee |
|April 19||Moon at Perigee |
|April 22||Lyrids |
Zenith Hourly Rate= 18
Zenith Hourly Rate= varying
|April 25||Mercury at Dichotomy||06:37 PM|
|April 27||Venus-Jupiter-Moon Conjunction||before dawn|
|April 29||Mercury at highest altitude||---|
|Mercury at greatest elongation||03:34 PM|
|April 30||Venus-Jupiter Conjunction||before dawn|
As seen in the calendar above, two meteor shows will occur. On top of these, conjunctions, wherein two or more celestial objects appear seemingly close to each other as seen by the naked eye, will also happen in the last week of April.
April Lyrids 2022: when, where & how to see it
According to PAGASA, the annual Lyrids meteor shower is observable from April 16 to 25 and will reach its peak on Friday, April 22, 2022. The constellation Hercules, which is the meteor’s radiant, or the point at which the meteors emanate during a meteor shower, will be active from 9:17 PM until around 5:14 AM the following day.
History of the April Lyrids Meteor Shower
The Lyrids meteor shower is the oldest known meteor shower and has been observed for more than 2,600 years. The first recorded sighting of a Lyrid meteor shower goes back to 687 BC by the Chinese, describing it as “stars falling like rain”. These meteors got their name from the constellation Lyra (photo below), which hosts the bright star Vega, the fifth brightest star in the sky. The Lyrids meteor shower, which usually appears between April 16 and April 25, was called such because they appear to radiate from a point in the constellation Lyra. The source of the Lyrids meteor is the comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1), which orbits the Sun every 415 years.
The parallelogram shape of the constellation Lyra represents the lyre, the musical instrument of Orpheus from Greek mythology. It was said that the Greek musician and poet played the lyre at the gates of Hades in an attempt to win back Eurydice from the Underworld.
How to Catch the Peak of the Lyrids Meteor Shower
The radiant is at its highest around 4:00 in the morning, which will be the best time to view the meteor shower with up to 18 observable meteors per hour. With clear skies, as many as 18 meteor streaks per hour with a velocity of 49 km/s, may be visible during this window according to the European Southern Observatory. The good news is, this breathtaking cosmic light show requires no special equipment and can be enjoyed by the naked eye. NASA says that they are best viewed in skies that are as dark as possible, away from light pollution.
The key to spotting the fleeting streaks of light is to lie on your back with your feet facing east and look up to the sky, taking in as much of it as possible. Your eyesight will adapt in the dark in about 30 minutes and you will begin to see meteors. When viewing meteors, NASA also reminds viewers to practice patience, and since the show will last till dawn so you will have plenty of time to get a glimpse. As long as you don’t fall asleep, that is.
π-Puppids Meteor Shower
Another meteor shower to watch out for this month is the π-Puppids or Pi Puppids meteor shower. It will be observable from April 15-28, and is expected to peak on April 24. It will radiate from the constellation Puppis and is observable after sunset until it sinks downwards the horizon around 10:09 PM, according to the weather bureau.
Which direction should I look to see these celestial events?
With the help of technology, it will be fairly easy to find out which direction you should look up to see the meteor showers. You can download Sky Map (FREE) or Stellarium (PAID) to search for the planets, constellations, or radiant where the meteor will radiate from and let it guide you in the right direction.