By Kai Gaarder
The April Lyrids are the last meteor shower of the season, that can be viewed under dark sky conditions from these northern longitudes. After 2 successful pre-maximum nights on April 18/19 and April 20/21, I crossed my fingers for clear skies the next two “maximum” nights. Unfortunately, April 21/22 was completely clouded out from my observation site in Norway, and the forecast for the coming night, was also very uncertain. I therefore decided to hit the road, and drive some 225 kilometers further east, across the border to Sweden.
Outside the small town of Sunne, I found an excellent observing site on a hilltop raging over 200 meters over the surroundings. After driving the steep and winding road to the top, I observed the first Lyrid when unloading my observation gear from the car at about 20:30 UT. It was a beautiful, reddish, slow moving meteor low in the northern sky. The next half hour, I used to set up my camera equipment and take some test pictures, while waiting for dark enough skies to start my visual observations. In this period, I observed another 1 mag Lyrid in Ursa Major, followed up by an amazing yellow/green -3 Mag Lyrid, that streaked across the sky from Draco and throughout Ursa Major, leaving a smoke train for several seconds! Unfortunately, my camera field was a bit too low in the sky, so I did only catch the first half of the meteor path on camera.
I had high hopes for more bright meteors, when starting my observations at 21:00 UT. However, it soon became clear that the show of bright meteors was over. In the coming 3 hours I saw 20 Lyrids, and among them only 3 were of magnitude 2 or brighter. The brightest one being a 0 magnitude, white, slow moving, near radiant meteor at 22:11 UT. Also among the sporadic, there was a lack of bright meteors, the best one being a 1 mag in the outskirts of my observation field at 22:40 UT. Despite the lack of bright meteors, I managed to catch 7 Lyrids and 2 Sporadic meteors on camera, using a Nikon D3100, with a Samyang 16mm, F 2.0 lens. A great result, considering most of these meteors are at the very detection limit for my camera lens!
The observing season is now almost over from Norway, due to bright summer skies. I am therefore very pleased to have won the race with the clouds this evening, getting 3 hours under good sky conditions, resulting in 20 Lyrids and 10 Sporadic meteors. Hopefully I will be able to observe some meteors during my vacation in Morocco in July, before the dark skies return to Norway in the middle of August. Details from my observation are presented below. Clear skies, and lucky Eta Aquariid hunting for those of you situated on more southerly longitudes!
21:00 – 22:00. Teff 1.00, F 1.00, Lm 6.06. Facing East.
- 5 Lyrids: 2(2), 3, 5, 6
- 0 Sporadics!
22:00 – 23:00. Teff 1.00, F 1.00, Lm 6.28. Facing East.
- 8 Lyrids: 0, 2, 3, 4(3), 5(2)
- 4 Sporadics: 1, 4, 5, 6
23:00 – 00:00. Teff 0.966, F 1.00, Lm 6.17. Facing East.
- 7 Lyrids: 3(2), 4(4), 5
- 6 Sporadics: 3(3), 4(2), 5