Friday , October 7 2022

Great Time For Skywatchers This Week


The night sky should be filled with shooting stars over the next few days. That's because of the annual Perseid Meteor Rain.

Ken McAllister is a local skywatcher from Steinbach. He explains that the Perseid is the most pleasant of meteor showers because it occurs during one of the hottest periods of the year. It happens every year in early August.

2019 08 perseidPeriod of Perseid-Metera Rain. Photo credit: Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA)

Although often referred to as shooting stars, McAllister says the Perseids are actually meteoric rain; the result of a comet that the earth travels once a year. As the earth moves past those dust particles, they resemble flashing lights.

According to McAllister, the timing of this year's meteor shower does not allow for ideal viewing. Because August 15 is a full moon and because August 13 is expected to be the peak of the shower activity, McAllister says the sky will be too bright for optimal viewing pleasure. As a result, he suggests, this weekend may be your best chance to catch a glimpse.

The best place to look is probably outside the city limits, suggests McAllister. He says because of the light pollution in Steinbach, you may want to travel out of town to the southeast. And the best time to watch is during the wee hours of the morning, around 3 or 4 a.m.

McAllister says this year, during peak nights, there will probably be 20 to 30 shooting stars visible every hour. That number drops from the 60 per hour that has been visible in past years.

"These meteors can come literally from any sky," says McAllister. "You just want to search, you don't need any special equipment; you don't need anything but your own eyes."

Meanwhile, this is not the only show in heaven worthy of watching those nights. McAllister says that Jupiter is seen as the brightest light in the night sky, except for the moon. You can see it with the naked eye, low in the southern sky. McAllister says that with twins you can also see as many as four moons of Jupiter.

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