MONTREAL, Aug. 6, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - It's August, and that means the eagerly awaited Perseids shooting stars will be back soon! The Montréal Planetarium, a Space for Life, invites you to get out and watch the annual event on the night of August 11-12, the best time to catch this show in eastern North America. If the sky is dark and clear, you can expect to spot as many as thirty an hour! Pull out your lawn chair, dress warmly and take along a thermos of hot chocolate, for nights can be cool and damp at this time of year. Pick a viewing spot where the light pollution is less intense, if possible away from the big city.
2012: an average year
This year's show will be only fair, for two reasons: the maximum number of shooting stars will occur around 8 a.m. on August 12, long after sunrise. So it is strongly recommended that you head out the night before to see as many as possible. The other reason is that the bright crescent Moon will be outshining the dimmest shooting stars after 1 a.m. A few tips: Don't gaze directly at sources of light, and try to look to the left or right of the point in the sky where the meteors seem to be coming from (the constellation of Perseus, for the Perseids). And if the weather isn't co-operating, you can still see some shooting stars on the few nights before and after the maximum, although you may have to wait longer and look harder. While you're out there, why not bring along your starfinder and brush up on your knowledge of the seasonal constellations?
This magical show is produced by tiny specks of dust that burn up as they plunge into the upper atmosphere, 65 to 135 km above the Earth, at tremendous speeds of 60 km/s. As they are consumed they heat the air around them and produce the trail of light that we see as a "shooting star." The dust is miniscule debris left behind by comets that disintegrate as they repeatedly pass near the Sun. The Perseids are remnants of comet Swift-Tuttle, and continue to cross through the Earth's orbit on the same dates every year, just like a few other clusters of dust from other comets. They are known as the Perseids because through a trick of perspective they all seem to emerge from the same vanishing point, or radiant, in the constellation of Perseus.
For more information on the Perseids
In addition to detailed explanations of this meteor shower and stargazing tips, on its website, the Planetarium is also offering free presentations for the public. From August 10 to 12, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., a Planetarium staff member will be on hand at the Biodôme site to provide advice and information on the Perseids. Meet up outside, if the weather is good, or inside if it's raining.
Get together with family and friends and enjoy this magical starry show! And remember to make a wish!
SOURCE: Espace pour la vie
For further information:
Karine Jalbert, Communications Co-ordinator
Telephone: 514 872-1453/ 514 250-3230
Anik Robichaud-Gauvin, Communications Assistant
Telephone: 514 868-3123