Whether you’re counting down the days until school starts or you are dreading the moment Labour Day ends, there’s still enough time to make the most of summer 2015. Take out your blankets and turn off your phones, because tonight and tomorrow the stars are waiting.
The Perseids meteor shower has been going on for a month, but its peak is tonight and tomorrow night with an estimated 100 meteors per hour. Paired with clear skies and the new moon, it’s looking like an ideal time to watch the shower.
Where and how to get the best shower possible:
Pick a place that is as free of light pollution as possible, as far from the city lights as possible (sorry English Bay!) which can be difficult in Vancouver.
If you have access to a car, you can head over to Aldergrove Lake Regional Park in between Langley and Abbotsford, which hosts a party during the shower ($2 per person) or Abbotsford’s MacDonald Park, which is certified to be free of light pollution. If you don’t have a car, you can bus to the Gordon MacMillian Southam Observatory or try your luck with a local park (the bigger the better). Remember, you may not notice the light pollution, but if it’s in the city, it’s there.
On campus, you may have a better time. Possible spots to make your wish on a shooting star include Totem field or south campus (yes, campus does go farther south than the forestry building) where there are less buildings and better views.
Plan to get there at least half an hour early. Your eyes need to adjust to the night sky in order to see the most. Since the shower’s peak is after midnight and the early hours of Wednesday and Thursday, plan for it to be a late night.
Alternatively, you could plan for it to be a very early morning, and head out a few hours before dawn, which will still be during peak times for the shower.
The meteors you’ll see are debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet burning up in our atmosphere. The ice and dust are usually going speeds upward of 60 km/h so your eyes will have to be fast to see them, but the easiest way to view meteors is to relax. Lay on your back and just look at the skies. You may be frustrated if you don’t see any right away, but be patient, you’ll see some soon enough.