While the largest meteor shower of the year peaked early this morning, astronomy enthusiasts will still have a chance to catch the Perseid meteor shower tonight, said the vice-president of collection and research for the Canada Science and Technology Museum Corp.
“You might have to be a bit more patient,” said Randall Brooks.
The meteor is the result of the Comet Swift-Tuttle passing around the sun, said Brooks, who is also an astronomer by training. It leaves a stream of small dust particles and small rocks, he said.
“As the Earth goes through the stream, that’s when we see a meteor shower,” he said.
Although there are dozens of meteor showers caused by different comets throughout the year, this one, which occurs every 15 years, is among the best known “because it’s in the summer and it’s nice and warm out,” Brooks said.
“People are at the cottage and they make it an annual event to go out to watch the sky. It’s the one people are most familiar with.”
Most of the meteors are visible past midnight and in the early morning.
“You need a clear view of the sky, so head just outside the city,” Brooks said. “The best direction to face will be southeast.”
As for equipment, you don’t need any.
“It’s best viewed with just your eyes,” Brooks said. Meteors move about 60 kilometres per second and flit across the sky quickly. “The meteors flash across so fast that if you try to watch it with binoculars, you would be very lucky to see it scoot through your field of view.”
The meteor shower coincides with the International Year of Astronomy, said Brooks.
“We’re urging people to go out and have their own Galileo moment and discover something in the sky.”