If you have been out watching the night sky the last few weeks, you might have seen a shooting star or two, or maybe a few more.
On Aug. 12, the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory south of Penticton will be holding a special viewing of the Perseid Meteor Shower, and your best bet at seeing more than just a couple shooting stars.
Since July 17, the Earth’s travels through space have put it the path of another celestial traveller, the Swift-Tuttle comet, whose fragments are burning up on entry. As Earth has been passing through the comet’s tail, countless meteors have showered the sky, although the ones people tend to notice have been at night.
The meteors, streaking out from the constellation of Perseus, will be coming mostly from the northeast. During the peak of the shower it is possible to see up to 80 meteors an hour from the observatory. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Okanagan Centre will be providing free telescopes to visitors, and astronomers Ken Tapping, Tom Landecker, Alex Hill, Tony Willis and Mark Garstin will be giving talks and taking questions at the observatory.
The peak of the annual meteor shower is expected to be Aug. 12, with the sightings of meteors slowing down until the Earth passes out the other end of the comet’s tail on Aug. 24. The best nights to view the shower are from Aug. 9 to the 14. It’s late-night viewing, as the Earth’s orbit brings our best views from midnight until dawn.
The DRAO will open their doors to the public at 7:15 p.m. on Aug. 12, the night that the annual Perseid Meteor Shower is expected to peak. The talks from the astronomers will run from 8 until 9:30 p.m. Warm clothing and a blanket or lawn chair are recommended for comfortable viewing.
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