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

Home fire displaces Vernon tenants for “at least one night”

UPDATE: Crews were able to contain fire to a single room

Two-vehicle crash at Vernon intersection

Truck and SUV involved at Alexis Park Drive and 43rd Avenue

Support sought for senior dog at Vernon SPCA

Teki came in underweight, had surgery to remove two painful lumps and dental work

Freezing rain, flurries possible for Central and North Okanagan

Risk of freezing rain tonight and Saturday morning in Central, North Okanagan and Connector

More job cuts fall on Tolko employees, not just Vernon

Forest company trims another 44 positions

PHOTOS: NHL honours B.C. grandma’s battle against cancer in special match

Shea Theodore’s grandmother Kay Darlington dropped the puck at a special ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ game

MITCHELL’S MUSINGS: Hitting delete button on hockey traditions

Midget hockey will be no more, but what’s next?

Province argues in B.C. Supreme Court for smudging in schools, says it relates to curriculum

Hearing concludes in case regarding indigenous cultural practice in Vancouver Island classroom

Mosaic Forest Management announces forestry shutdown

Thousands of forestry workers in Coastal B.C. will be affected by ‘curtailment’

Nothing wrong with being mistaken for a sex trade worker

Twice in my life, I’ve been mistaken for a sex trade worker.… Continue reading

Appeal dismissed for B.C. man who assaulted woman in ‘thoroughly modern’ fight over phone

‘Both were seeking evidence of cheating by the other,’ says B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo

Princeton pot plant owners concerned about fake website

We don’t want people thinking that’s our company.

Vandals target Cowork Penticton mural

‘Calliope’ is meant to be a simble for weaving separate parts together to form a community

Motorcycle ride in memory of Penticton man

Motorcycle enthusiast was murdered in Kamloops earlier this year

Most Read