Dark Skies, New Moon, Meteor Shower, and Thou

It’s that magical time of year once again, the best meteor shower of the year is upon us: The Perseids!  Generally the most reliable meteor shower and the one that most people know about, the August meteors have one of the highest rates, typically anywhere from 50 – 100 meteors per hour.  Its amazing how well known it is considering most people don’t know there are more than nine showers during the year. Either way, this year will be particularly good for a very special reason: It’s a new Moon.

Meteor shower Geminids Credit: Jeff Dai

The Moon is the enemy of a meteor shower.  Its incredible brightness washes away the dimmer meteors and makes it a lot tougher to see the majority of the shower.  I remember going out one year and seeing the Perseids during a full Moon, and I saw maybe one or two meteors total, not a pleasant evening.  I have, however, also seen them during true darkness, and it’s an experience I will never forget.  So make sure you get out and see them this week.

The peak will happen at around 3am Thursday morning, and of course the radiant (the point meteors appear to originate from) is the constellation Perseus the hero, hence the name.

Credit: Astrobob

As an added bonus, if you can get away from light pollution, you’ll get to truly dark skies and see the maximum number of meteors, making the shower an unforgettable experience.  Of course, if the weather is bad, that won’t help.

I will be up on Manitoulin Island for the event, which is far removed from the bright lights of Toronto, so I am excited to try and photograph some of the brighter meteors too! Enjoy the shower!


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