Thursday, 11 August 2016 08:00

Meteor shower viewing opportunity in Vulcan

Written by  Prairie Post
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This year’s Perseids Meteor Shower is set to be one of the best and officials with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) Calgary chapter want to help attendees to the monthly stargazing session at the Trek Centre in Vulcan see it even better.


Officials with the RASC will have telescopes, binoculars and other viewing devices available to use during the evening event, Friday, Aug. 12 starting at 7:30 p.m.
“The annual summer meteor shower is expected to be a record gusher up to 200 meteors per hour, more than double from its normal of 80 according to NASA,” says Neel Roberts, astronomy co-ordinator.
Indeed NASA’s website states the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower is Aug. 11-12.
“The Perseids show up every year in August when Earth ventures through trails of debris left behind by an ancient comet. This year, Earth may be in for a closer encounter than usual with the comet trails that result in meteor shower, setting the stage for a spectacular display,” it reads.
On NASA’s website, Bill Cooke, with NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office in Huntsville, Alabama, says “Forecasters are predicting a Perseid outburst this year with double normal rates on the night of Aug. 11-12. Under perfect conditions, rates could soar to 200 meteors per hour.”
An outburst is a meteor shower with more meteors than usual.
The last Perseid outburst occurred in 2009.
“(It) is not expected to return anytime soon considering the previous ones were 1992, 1993 and 1994,” points out Roberts.
According to the Accuweather forecast a week before the event, clear skies are predicted and warm weather, making for excellent stargazing.
The Perseid meteor is a tiny piece of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 133 years. NASA’s website states, “ Each swing through the inner solar system can leave trillions of small particles in its wake. When Earth crosses paths with Swift-Tuttle’s debris, specks of comet-stuff hit Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrate in flashes of light. These meteors are called Perseids because they seem to fly out of the constellation Perseus.”
Since 2010, the Vulcan Trek center has been holding regular, free, public stargazing sessions held monthly at 7:30 p.m. on the second Friday with astronomy experts on hand. More information can be found online at: http://www.vulcantourism.com/ or http://calgary.rasc.ca.

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