Those of you who read yesterday’s post about the Lyrid meteor shower may well be waiting on the edges of your seats for further information as to how the night went.
The short version is that I don’t think I saw any meteors. I went out after it was dark, sat in a chair, relaxed, and watched the sky. The sky was nice and clear; initially, at least. The Moon was rather bright, though, and before long high clouds started to roll in from the north-east. The moon lit the clouds up beautifully, but for anything else it was hopeless. I went in after half an hour, without a single meteor being spotted.
Still, I had also taken my camera out with me, as a bit of an experiment. I set it up on the tripod, plugged in the remote release, chose what seemed to be a good exposure and sat there clicking away. I don’t expect the results will be outstanding, not for a first quick attempt, but we’ll see what comes out of it. It might take a bit of experimentation in post-processing; I’ll keep you updated.
There haven’t been many astronomical posts on here recently. Partly, that is, because as the seasons turn it’s no longer feasible for The Children to stay up and get the telescope out, at least not on a school night; and I have to stay up later and later for the sky to be dark enough. Indeed, a little over a month from now, it won’t be technically night at all for a while here. At this latitude there’s a whole two-month period, centred on the summer solstice, when it doesn’t officially get any darker than “astronomical twilight”. As of today, you have to wait after 10.30pm or so (local time, that is) for it to be night night.
Nevertheless, I do have plans in the pipeline, both for astronomy-themed things to write about here and astronomy things to actually do. So, watch this space. I’ve been taking hints and inspiration from a friend who takes some lovely astrophotography shots; we’ll see if it goes anywhere.
The reason I’m posting this today, though, is that it’s another one of those interesting times in the astronomical calendar. Tonight, some time in the middle of the night, it will be the peak of the April Lyrids meteor shower. The Lyrids are the debris from Comet Thatcher, which was discovered in 1861 and hasn’t been seen since, as its orbital period is around 415 or so years. The meteors themselves often tend to be of the “fireball” type, fat streaks of light that leave a noticeable smoke trail behind them, a bit like one of the Geminids I spotted last December.
As it happens, the weather forecast for tonight here is actually quite a good one, with (at the time of writing) clear skies in the forecast right through the whole night. Maybe I’ll try dragging a chair outside at bedtime and sitting back to watch the sky for a while, to see if anything happens.