Perseid meteor shower set to light up sky this weekend
Published Friday, August 10, 2012 5:03PM MDT Last Updated Friday, August 10, 2012 5:04PM MDT
Sky gazers are in for quite the show this weekend as the annual Perseid meteor shower hits its peak.
The Perseid meteor shower takes place every August, hitting its peak between August 11 and 13, when those looking skywards could see up to a hundred meteorites every hour - weather permitting.
“The meteor rate might be up to 60, even a hundred meteors per hour, which is quite a few compared to maybe the normal rate of somewhere between zero and 10 per hour,” said Trevor Prentice with the TELUS World of Science.
However street lights and even the moon can hamper viewing of the meteor shower so in order to truly enjoy the light show, experts say you’ll need to leave city limits.
“The best chance is if you can get out of town to somewhere where we have darker skies. There’s a lot of light pollution in the city and that blocks out the dimmer objects like the meteorites you would see in the sky,” Prentice said.
Prentice says the Blackfoot Nature Reserve is a designated dark sky area ideal for viewing, but sky gazers can also get a good view of the show at Elk Island National Park. Even better viewing locations would be in Banff or Jasper.
“If you’ve been planning on going camping anyway, maybe this would be a perfect weekend then there’s lots of great ways to view the meteor shower once you’re out there,” Prentice said.
The best time to catch the meteorites is between 11 p.m. and about 2 a.m. – before the moon rises.
“It’s a once a year thing and you can some spectacular meteors come through the atmosphere,” said Brenda Berg who is planning on catching the meteor show.
“It’s something that not everyone gets to see.”
“It’s always something interesting for the children,” said Jerry Aulenbach.
“We have four children so it’s always a good thing to teach them about.”
The Perseid meteor shower occurs each year when Earth passes through the orbit of the Comet Swift-Tuttle.
Debris around the comet produces the Perseid meteor shower.
Prentice said this weekend will be extra special for sky gazers as well – watch the south east part of the sky to see Venus, Jupiter and the moon come closer together.
“They’ll look like very bright objects,” Prentice said.
“Brighter than any of the stars you see towards the south east in the early morning hours.”
With files from Amanda Anderson