Celestial show: Perseid meteorites expected to light up night sky
Published Saturday, August 11, 2012 8:55AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, August 11, 2012 11:49AM EDT
Stargazers could get the rare treat of seeing hundreds of meteorites over the next three nights as the Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak.
The meteor shower happens every August when the Earth passes through the orbit of the comet Swift-Tuttle.
Debris from the comet burns up as it hits Earth’s atmosphere.
Weather permitting, anyone looking skyward should be able to see 60 meteors an hour streaking across the sky between dusk and dawn.
“The meteor rate might be up to 60, even a hundred meteors per hour, which is quite a few compared to maybe the normal rate of somewhere between zero and 10 per hour,” Trevor Prentice with the TELUS World of Science told CTV News Edmonton.
Although Perseids can be seen any time after 10 p.m, Eric Briggs of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada says the pre-dawn hours will be the best viewing time.
A team of NASA astronomers led by Bill Cooke will be live on the space agency’s website on Saturday from 11 p.m. to answer questions from the public about the event.
The weekend could prove to be a sky-watching bonanza as Venus and Jupiter, the solar system’s brightest planets, will be in line with the moon in the eastern sky.
“They’ll look like very bright objects,” Prentice said.
The Perseids have been observed for at least 2,000 years, according to NASA.
With files from The Canadian Press