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Perseid Meteor shower lights up the sky


by Garrett Fodor

(Photos Courtesy of Nancy Ng)

Astronomers, stargazers, and space enthusiasts alike are spending their nights with their eyes focused on the sky, through the use of telescopes, in hopes of catching a glimpse of meteors. 

  Last week, sky gazers were witness to the peak of the Perseid Meteor shower. The annual meteor shower runs from mid-July to mid-August, with the peak being on August 12 this year.

  The Perseid Meteor shower consists of debris from the comet, Swift-Tuttle.

  The comet circles earth every 133-years, making its last appearance in 1992. It is projected to return in 2126. Swift-Tuttle is nearly 30km in diameter.

  “What makes this shower so special is just how prolific it is,” Nancy NG, Secretary and Director of Observing for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada-Windsor Centre, described. “This shower brings with it 60 to 100 meteors per hour, visible in the dark sky. A lot of the other meteor showers, you are likely to see 10 to 20 in an hour.”

  NG notes that the Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus. When looking at the meteor shower, the direction or radiant, which the shower seems to come in, the sky lies in the same direction as the constellation Perseus.

  To have an optimal viewing experience for Perseids or other meteor showers, she added there has to be little to no light. The peak of the Perseids falls on ‘dark sky night’ with the optimal time to see the shower being 4 a.m., but visibility starts at about 11 p.m. each night. The darkest nights happen during the new moon, when the moon isn’t visible in the sky. When there is such an occurrence, Point Peele opens its gates and allows people to use the park for their viewing pleasure until 12 a.m. 

  The RASC Windsor Centre had previously partnered with Point Peele, hosting Dark Sky Nights at the National Park prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. NG adds that they are optimistic to continue it down the road. 

  The Next Dark Sky Night at Point Pelee is September 11, 2021. There is usually a handful of members at these events with telescopes, explaining what people may see. 

  NG added for those interested in learning more about astronomy, or may want to become members of RASC Windsor Centre, are invited to sign-up online. The club meets on the second Tuesday of each month. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, NG noted the meetings have shifted from in-person at the Ojibway Nature Centre in LaSalle, to digitally through Zoom. 

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