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

Penticton business icon closing doors after 80 years

The owners of Grant King Menswear are retiring after 35 years

Bag of white substance found near Summerland water park

Resident concerned crystal meth was left near children’s play area

Property crime has been increasing in Penticton since 2014

Of the 5,457 criminal code violations (excluding traffic violations) reported in Penticton… Continue reading

TGIF: Penticton and South Okanagan events listings

Live theatre, concerts, events, art exhibits and more from around the South Okanagan

Casey Affleck’s movie Light of My Life features Southern Interior of B.C.

Film features Academy Award and Emmy Award winners

Osoyoos woman who threatened mom and baby with butcher knife sentenced

Sharon Constance Forner pleaded guilty to one criminal charge and was sentenced

Concerns raised about crossing in Okanagan Falls

RDOS director says safety issues have been raised

Injured hiker rescued in Peachland

The woman fell while hiking Pincushion Mountain on Friday

‘Easy Rider’ star Peter Fonda dies at 79

Actor and writer was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the 1969 psychedelic road trip movie

Car of missing Victoria pair found in Vernon

RCMP encourage people to call with information, not just post on social media

Families receive support from ‘Living Flag’ fundraisers

A young man and a boy who both live with limited mobility were supported by the Canada Day events

Haida artist to perform at George Ryga Festival in Summerland

Interweavings features music from Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson and Bill Henderson

Princeton hosts Western Canada’s only festival devoted exclusively to traditional music

From a Doukhobor choir to folk singers, singer songwriters, Celtic music and… Continue reading

Most Read