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October 27, 2017 9:42 pm

Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks this Weekend

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 @ 5:59 AM

perseidPrince George, B.C. – It happens every August as  Earth passes through the debris of the Swift-Tuttle  comet, and that debris  disintegrates in flashes of light as   is  hits Earth’s atmosphere.  We have come to know it as  the Perseid Meteor shower, because it seems the  debris is coming from the constellation Perseus in the north east.

(Perseid meteor shower image courtesy NASA/JPL)


This year, the display is expected to be even more spectacular,  thanks to Jupiter.  Because of the alignment of the planets,  Jupiter’s gravitational pull is  tugging that trail of  particles, and  as Earth moves through that debris path closer to its centre,  that means there  are more particles  that will disintegrate leaving streaks  in the night sky.

Blair Stunder is the President of the Royal Astronomical Society in Prince George and says  the Perseid  Meteor Shower has  already  started “It started  about  the past week and a half,  but the peak, the real peak  we will hit is the 12th.  So the  11th, 12th, 13th is the peak of the meteor shower.”

Will  you see an amazing show overnight on the 12th?  Well,  there are a couple other factors that could  limit  what you see “The biggest problem we’re going to have is  that Friday night, the moon sets about 12:30 in the morning  and it’s going to be about 75%, so to that point,  it’s going to be  pretty bright  so that will dim out ( the sky)  a little bit, but that will be to the south, with the  Perseids radiating out of the northeast area of the sky.”

Stunder says  generally,  the Perseids produce about   100 meteors per hour, but   this year,  that could  climb to  about 200 per hour, but  not all will be visible.  He says  even if you can’t see the meteors,  if you tune an am radio to a channel  that is not dedicated to a station,  you might be  able to  hear the meteors “You will hear little pops and hisses as the meteors ionize  the gasses in the sky.  And if you tune to a  frequency being broadcast from someplace else, possibly Edmonton or Vancouver,  you might actually hear,  if it’s a really big meteor,   you might actually hear a word or  beats of a song from that skip off the ionization.”

The Observatory in Prince George ( off the Blackwater Road) will be open at 9:30 Friday night  to  those who want to have the best chance of  seeing the  meteor shower.   Stunder advises you bring a comfortable  reclining lawn chair and  something to bundle up in as  the night  can be very cool,  and some hot chocolate, or coffee or tea to sip while you catch Mother Nature’s show. “It’s one of the nicer meteor showers” says Stunder, “first of all it’s a bright one,  and then the fact  it’s generally warm out,  as we get into the Leonids, and Geminids that take place in  October, November and December  it’s  usually  colder and not as nice .”

So the only thing  needed  to ensure  you have a good view of the  Perseids  is a clear night,  and right now, Environment Canada is predicting  some cloudy periods overnight Friday and a low of ten degrees.

The Observatory is located on Tedford  Road,   off the Blackwater Road heading to West Lake.




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