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Green Beat: Don’t forget to look up! Meteor showers are on the way

This year’s Perseid Meteor Shower is expected to be twice as thick as usual. The predicted peak dates are Aug. 11-12.
An exquisite cloud formation inspired columnist David Clements in his article on the upcoming Perseid Meteor Shower.

A funny thing happened on the way to writing this article. I was sitting on my back deck, thinking about what to write about observing the heavens, and I looked up!

What I saw was an exquisite cloud formation, unlike any I’d ever seen before. I took a photo to capture the moment, and now as I look up, all I see is blue sky. The moment has passed.

It reminds me of the lyrics from the well-known song from Sesame Street written by Joe Raposo:

“I nearly missed that rainbow

Don’t want to miss that sunset

I wouldn’t miss that shooting star going by …”

We tend to blame missing celestial events on our busy schedules. Or perhaps we don’t want go out and watch an extreme weather event like a thunderstorm because it’s a bit outside of our comfort zones.

Indeed, getting outside for us highly domesticated modern humans is half the battle. But think of your favourite memories of witnessing the power of nature out in raw nature … don’t they call you to go back out there?

July to August is the time every year when the shooting stars from the Sesame Street song are in their glory. And guess what? This year’s Perseid Meteor Shower is expected to be twice as thick as usual. The predicted peak dates are Aug. 11-12.

Every summer, parts of the comet Swift-Tuttle’s tail break up in our Earth’s atmosphere. We witness this as the bright streaks of shooting stars shower down on us.

One of my favourite experiences of the Perseid Meteor Shower was on Salt Spring Island, where there are few lights, and my son Adrian and I laid back and enjoyed the show on a bedrock bluff before turning in for the night. Unforgettable!

With the Perseid Meteor Shower predicted to produce nearly double the number of shooting stars this year, it is a good year to turn your eyes heavenward.

One way to take in this year’s meteor shower is an event hosted by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada at Aldergrove Regional Park on Saturday, Aug. 13. For details, click here.

Of course, many other heavenly events are unfolding all the time. These wispy clouds are back putting quite a show for me here as I write.

As the Psalmist wrote: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19). Look up!

David Clements, Ph.D. is Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at Trinity Western University.