Metro Vancouver stargazers, rejoice!
One of the brightest and most popular meteor showers has kicked off in the Lower Mainland (and across all of the Northern Hemisphere, for that matter) and will continue through mid-August.
The Perseid Meteor Shower offers several ideal viewing opportunities during clear summer nights, which makes it a favourite of sky-watchers. Best of all, the Perseid shower is one of the easiest to view from the Northern Hemisphere.
The Perseid shower will peak from Aug. 11 to Aug. 12 but they are active from July 14 to Sept.1. You can expect to see about 50 to 75 shooting stars per hour at the peak.
"The Perseids are particles released from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle during its numerous returns to the inner solar system," according to the American Meteorological Association.
Unfortunately, the full sturgeon moon will illuminate the night sky on Aug. 11 this year, making the cosmic display harder to observe. That said, there are multiple viewing opportunities in the nights leading up to the peak, as an increasing number of shooting stars will become visible.
Where the shower got its name
The Perseid meteors "appear to fall" from the constellation Perseus, notes the Canadian Space Agency. Additionally, the constellation is at its highest point in the sky right before dawn when the most shooting stars are visible.
Greek mythological hero Perseus defeated Medusa by using a reflective shield to "turn her powers against her."
Perseid Meteor Shower hunting tips in Metro Vancouver for 2022
To fully enjoy the spectacle, here are a few tips for meteor hunting:
- If possible, head away from city lights, which make it hard to see fainter meteors. To increase your chances of seeing shooting stars, set out in search of dark skies in the countryside.
- If you need to use a flashlight, place a red filter over the bulb (a red balloon will do in a bind). White light is very blinding and may affect your night vision.
- Dress warmly. Even though the Perseids occur in the summertime, it is still a good idea to bring warm (even winter) clothes. August nights can be very chilly.
- Sit back and relax on a reclining chair or lie down on a blanket. Not only is it much more comfortable to observe the stars lying down, but you'll also see more that way.
- Pack a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee—it will come in handy if you start to drift off or get a little chilly!
- Be patient. It might take a while before you see your first shooting star. Don't be quick to give up... It's worth the wait!