The night sky has been filled with shooting stars this week.
Each August, the earth passes through the remnants of a comet that exploded many years ago. Ken McAllister is a local skywatcher from Steinbach. He explains what is left of that comet is bits of dust and rock that we see at the same time each year. Those bits of dust appear as shooting stars at night.
The shooting stars have already been visible for a couple of weeks, but the most intense display is expected Tuesday night (August 11th). According to McAllister, on the peak night, you could spot the shooting stars at a rate of one every minute. However, he notes unfortunately, this year you will have the moon to contend with.
"The moon is going to be less competition if you waited till Wednesday or Thursday evening of this week," suggests McAllister. "Even next week you will see some remnants of this Perseid Meteor Shower when there is less moon in the sky. This year, we have to compete with the moon."
McAllister says because of the moon, it may be more like one shooting star every three to four minutes you will spot. According to McAllister, the meteors you are seeing are not very big at all.
"Most of them are small, like a small rock," he explains. "Some of the brighter ones would be larger."
When a meteor falls to the earth, it is called a meteorite. McAllister says most meteorites will range in size from a couple of inches in diameter to a couple of feet in diameter. But, they can certainly be much larger. For example, McAllister says many scientists believe West Hawk Lake is the remnant of a meteorite, which was big enough to create that lake.
According to McAllister, the meteors should be visible in all parts of the sky. However, he suggests you may want to travel to an area where there are no other lights to contend with. He also says waiting until after midnight will help. Environment Canada is calling for a clear sky Tuesday night.
If you miss the Perseid Meteor Shower this year, you can bank on its return in 2021.
"We can look forward to the Perseid Meteor Shower every August around this time for many, many years," says McAllister.
And, he notes the show does not lose its luster.
"It's as spectacular today as it was twenty years ago," suggests McAllister. "It's kind of a nice thing, you can take your kids out and as they get older they understand it more and it's a nice thing to do on a warm August evening."