One of nature’s prime sights will soon be taking place in the night skies overhead. Each year in August is the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower, the northern hemisphere's finest annual display of 'shooting stars'.
One of the best places to see the meteors in North America is at the Lennox & Addington Dark Sky Viewing Area, located at 7980 County Road 41 near Erinsville, 37 kilometres north of Napanee. The site is hosting a two-night Perseid Meteor Shower event on Friday, August 11th and Saturday, August 12th beginning at about 9:30pm (weather permitting).
If you watch the night sky for at least 15 minutes, you are almost guaranteed to see at least one meteor—likely more. At its best, the shower can produce more than 50 meteors per hour. The brightest meteors can be brighter than the brightest stars. Conditions will not be ideal, unfortunately, as the moon will be three-quarters full during the peak. There will be some interference from its light that will make it more difficult to see some of the smaller meteors.
Telescopes or binoculars are not required for meteor viewing, nor are they recommended because the bright streaks move quickly and can appear anywhere in the sky. The key is a dark sky, which the Dark Sky Viewing Area provides. The longer you watch, the more meteors will flash through the sky. Visitors should bring a lounge chair or a blanket to lie on to get the best view of the skies overhead.
The Perseid meteors are small pieces of ice and dust that come from Comet Swift-Tuttle. Every year from early to mid-August, Earth passes through a cloud of dust sputtered off the icy core of the comet as it orbits the Sun. The meteors quickly incinerate in a flash of light as they collide with the Earth’s atmosphere at more than 50 times the speed of a rifle bullet producing an annual light show that is a favourite of amateur astronomers and nature watchers.
In addition to the meteor shower, a brief laser-guided tour of the night sky will also be performed by local dark sky enthusiast Joe Gilker on August 11th & 12th. Those in attendance can also take a look through a telescope.
Please note that these stargazing sessions are very weather dependent and will take place only if the sky is mostly free of clouds. Organizers recommend those in attendance visit www.DarkSkyViewing.com or www.Facebook.com/darkskyviewing for the most up-to-date information about viewing conditions.