PARKSVILLE — If you’re patient, stargazing this weekend will have an extra spark.
Greg Arkos, a professor of astronomy at VIU’s Nanaimo campus says the annual Perseid meteor shower will be especially spectacular on Saturday.
“The Earth is running into a debris field, basically junk, left behind by a comet,” he explained. The debris melted off the comet when it passed close to the Sun and now Earth’s rotation around the Sun has brought us right to the debris field.
Arkos said even though the remains of the comet are incredibly tiny, some no larger than a grain of sand, they still make for an impressive sight.
“Because they’re moving so fast, when they hit the atmosphere they get heated and basically glow.” Some of the larger parts will actually explode into fireballs, which Arkos said happens quite often during this particular meteor shower.
Best conditions are after midnight where there’s minimal light pollution and facing north-east.
Though the sky will light up with meteors, Arkos said eager watchers shouldn’t expect a constant light show.
“On a good year, you’ll see a couple meteors a minute…but many of them will be quite faint so you have to patient.” He said cloud and smoke cover will also interfere and block out the less-bright meteors, but “if you’re patient you might still get a couple nice fireballs and a few nice meteors over a few hours time.”