The Perseid meteor shower. (NASA)

‘It’s the sky putting on a show:’ How to catch the Perseid meteor shower in B.C.

B.C. residents can seek out dark sky spots for night sky views

Look to the sky Monday night and you might be treated to the sight of the Swift-Tuttle comet’s spectacular space show.

Every year around August the Earth intersects with the comet’s path and grain-sized debris hit Earth’s atmosphere, streaking across the night’s sky, appearing to come from the direction of the Perseus constellation and creating what’s called the Perseid meteor shower.

READ ALSO: Spectacular meteor show expected

“A meteor shower basically is a whole lot of meteorites – what we call shooting stars – little pieces of material from space that falls through the atmosphere and basically burns up,” said University of Victoria astronomer Karun Thanjavur. “A shower happens when you have many of them happening simultaneously and this is because the Earth’s orbit passes through debris that is left behind by a comet.”

This month, that comet is the Swift-Tuttle.

When it orbits the sun, the Swift-Tuttle heats up, releasing debris like ice and dust, which form its tail. The debris follows along with the comet’s orbit and intersects with Earth’s every August.

“It’s not as if the comet is there right now, it’s just that at some point in the past it passed that place,” Thanvajur explained. “As the earth passes through that point, there is more debris there that enters the atmosphere and burns up, so that’s why we have this sudden increase in shooting stars or meteorites.”

Thanjavur recommends finding a dark spot to watch, so that even the smaller meteors are visible.

“It only lasts a few seconds as each meteorite burns out. All you need to do is lie back and look at the sky,” he said. “These are events that you don’t need any special equipment for. You don’t need a telescope…all you do is just look up at the sky and if you’re lucky, you’ll see these really bright ones…and then at other times it will be fainter.”

READ ALSO: Hundreds enjoy lunar eclipse through UVic telescopes

READ ALSO: Skygazers spot mysterious flaming object during Sunday’s lunar eclipse

Astronomers predict that the night of Aug. 12 will be the best time to watch the showers. Oak Bay’s Cattle Point is a dark-sky preservation area and a great space for inner-city night sky watching.

“It’s something for everyone to enjoy,” Thanvajur said. “It’s the sky putting on a show.”



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

LETTER: Recreational angling has low-impact on Fraser salmon

Jason Tonelli writes about his displeasure at the call to close recreational fishing on the Fraser

Hope’s Wheeled Wild Women hit the road for cancer research

Group of friends ready for the 200-km bike trek that ends in Hope

PHOTOS: Paintings return to Kilby for fifth annual festival

The Plein Air Festival will be taking place at the historic site all weekend

Cougar spotted in Seabird Island

Residents are asked to report all sightings to conservation

VIDEO: Masterpieces begin to take shape at Hope’s chainsaw competition

More than a dozen chainsaw carvers, including one 14-year-old carver, taking part in four-day event

Sts’ailes invites adults to become engaged in Halq’eméylem with new video series

‘Qw’oqwel te Qw’oqwel’ gives language learners an immersive way to learn Halq’eméylem

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Portland, Oregon, awaits right-wing rally, counter protests

Patriot Prayer’s Joey Gibson surrendered Friday on an arrest warrant for felony rioting

Police identify 45-year-old victim in South Surrey stabbing

Delphin Paul Prestbakmo died at the scene, near 18 Avenue and 152 Street

Kraft Heinz brand baby food recalled in B.C. due to possibility of insects

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the product should not be consumed

First Nations women finally to be treated equally under Indian Act: Bennett

Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action thanked the feds

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

Most Read