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

Orangeville Northmen are through to Minto Cup lacrosse championships in Langley

With Coquitlam out of contention, junior A Victoria and Okotoks face a semifinal match Monday

LETTER: Grow your own corn, build on farm land – one man’s opinion

Develop residence in the Lower Mainland, focus farming in the Okanagan and Similkameen

UPDATED: Abandoned house blaze worries Langley neighbours

Redevelopment area of Willoughby attracts squatters and partiers, and fires fear area residents

GREEN BEAT: Langley prof witnesses a desperately dry country

The current drought in New South Wales is being called one of the worst ever, B.C. is so fortunate

Fighting cancer with beer

Clover Valley Beer Festival hosts 2500 guests and raises $5908 for B.C. Cancer Foundation

VIDEO: Canadian zoos’ captive breeding programs help preserve endangered species

Programs considered last-ditch effort to prevent local extinctions of turtles, butterflies and more

B.C. log export rules killing us, northwest harvester says

NorthPac Forestry says Skeena Sawmills has plenty of timber

Oppenheimer Park residents told to leave, clear out tents by Aug. 21

Police say park has seen influx of residents, violence in recent months

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Environment groups warned saying climate change is real could be seen as partisan

Talk of climate change could be viewed as advocating against Maxime Bernier, the leader of the People’s Party of Canada

Search crews find 4-year-old boy who went missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

15-year-old boy drowns after midnight jump into Okanagan Lake

The RCMP and BC Coroners Service are investigating the drowning.

Most Read