Have you ever wished on a shooting star? A meteor shower is the best time to do so! It’s an exciting time of year for stargazing and space enthusiasts as the annual Perseids meteor shower is set to put on a dazzling display in August. We are excited to be hosting a show that will help you learn about what a meteor shower is and how to see them.
Meteors are more commonly known as shooting stars, which are visible as streaks of light in the night sky that result from space debris colliding with the Earth’s atmosphere at extremely high speeds. Meteor shower is the name given to beautiful space events during which a high number of meteors appear to be radiating from a particular point in the night sky.
The Perseids meteor shower is an annual event that occurs due to space debris left behind by a comet called 109P/Swift-Tuttle. Every year in July and August, Earth passes through this debris trail. This space debris includes fragments of rock, ice, and small amounts of elements like iron that burn up as they hit the Earth’s atmosphere, creating a dazzling display for anyone looking up at the night sky.
The 2023 Perseids meteor shower has been active since mid-July and will be visible in the night sky until late August. Although the Perseids event is visible for roughly one month, the best time to see the meteor shower in 2023 is during the late hours of Saturday, August 12th, and the early hours of August 13th. This is when the 2023 Perseids are projected to be at their peak, with approximately one meteor per minute visible. Although you should be able to see some meteors after dark, gazing at the sky between midnight and 2:00am PDT will offer the best view.
As with most celestial events, the best place to watch the Perseids meteor shower is any place far away from city light pollution with an open view of the dark and clear night sky. Some of the darkest places in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland are parks, and people camping in the interior and more rural parts of BC will be treated to the best views. You can check out DarkSky to find recognized dark sky locations near you.
Meteor showers are usually named for the constellations or stars from which the meteors appear to come from. The Perseids meteor shower gets its name from the constellation Perseus. If you are familiar with this constellation, you will know exactly where to look. Luckily, even if you are not an experienced stargazer, simply looking up at the clear night sky in the direction of the Big Dipper during the peak of the Perseids will reward you with a spectacular show.
The easiest way to watch the Perseids meteor shower is lying on your back (to avoid getting a sore neck). Bring a blanket or sleeping bag, warm clothing, mosquito repellent, and some snacks so you can enjoy this amazing event comfortably for as long as you would like. This year the peak of the Perseids does not coincide with a full moon, so the night sky will be darker. If the weather cooperates, this is set to be one of the most spectacular Perseids events in years!
Visit us at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre at 7:00pm on August 11th for an educational and entertaining show all about the 2023 Perseids meteor shower. The interactive presentation will be held in our Planetarium Star Theatre and will cover what you need to know to view the Perseid meteor shower in 2023 and beyond.
After the presentation, you’ll be able to view the sky from the observatory and browse the Cosmic Courtyard gallery. Get your tickets for the Return of the Perseids Meteor Shower at the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre to learn more and experience this incredible annual event!