Ideal weather this week for peak of the Perseid meteor shower in Kamloops, Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Ideal weather this week for peak of the Perseid meteor shower in Kamloops, Okanagan

A view of the Perseid meteor shower from a Twitter user in Santa Monica, California.
Image Credit: TWTTER/ArtByDorel

With clear skies being forecast for the entire week, it could make for ideal viewing of the Perseids meteor shower that will peak on Thursday.

The annual meteor shower is rated as the best of the year with anywhere from 50 to 100 meteors visible per hour. The downside is that the best times to see them is in the early hours of the morning.

Despite that, the District of Lake Country is inviting star gazers to Kopje Regional Park from 8 to 11 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 12.

“Bring a headlamp, blanket or reclining lawn chair and stake your free spot in the park’s large, grassy area,” states a district news release. “Then gaze at the heavens and enjoy whatever the Perseids have to offer.”

Even without the meteors, the park itself is an attraction, waterfront on Okanagan Lake off Carr’s Landing Road.

“Normally, all one needs to view the Perseids is a dark location with a good view to the northeast,” Colin Taylor, president of the Kamloops Astronomical Society said in an email. “Viewing the meteor shower (or anything else in the sky) has been difficult this year, due to the smoke.”

While there are clear skies today, Aug. 9, particularly in Kamloops and the Central Okanagan, the North and South Okanagan are getting more smoke from nearby wildfires, Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist said.

As a high pressure system builds over the region this week there will be some wind today and tomorrow, which may clear smoke in some areas. But that wind is expected to decrease so the smoke will likely start building later in the week.

That means it might be better to look for the Perseids before they hit their peak on Thursday because the smoke may get in the way.

In terms or traditional viewing places for the meteor shower, the instruments have been removed from the Stake Lake Observatory near Kamloops because of the threat of wildfires but good locations to view the Perseids in that area are Mt. Lolo, the Lac du Bois grasslands and Mt. Dufferin, Taylor said.

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Anywhere in the Okanagan away from city lights should be good for viewing but the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Kaleden is also closed due to COVID.

“With very fast and bright meteors, Perseids frequently leave long ‘wakes’ of light and colour behind them as they streak through Earth's atmosphere,” says a NASA website. “Perseids are also known for their fireballs. Fireballs are larger explosions of light and colour that can persist longer than an average meteor streak.”

NASA explains that meteors come from leftover comet particles and bits from broken asteroids.

“When comets come around the sun, they leave a dusty trail behind them,” NASA says. “Every year, Earth passes through these debris trails, which allows the bits to collide with our atmosphere and disintegrate to create fiery and colourful streaks in the sky.”

The Perseids come from the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862 by Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle. It orbits the sun once every 133 years and last visited the inner solar system in 1992.

The Perseids are visible from late July to mid-August, with the number of shooting stars increasing until the peak on Aug. 12 and 13, according to a Government of Canada website.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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