The Perseid meteor shower 2007
by Erica Dolsen and Claire Jutras, Tofino
Flying towards earth at up to 216 000 km/h, hunks of space debris slam into the atmosphere, burning as they go. Not the end of the world!-- Just the Perseid Meteor Shower. This particular shower is visible every summer from mid-July onwards as the Earth passes the orbit of the Comet Swift-Tuttle. We should have quite a show this year as the new moon provides the best condition for viewing the Perseids on their peak on the night of August 12th.
What is making this happen? Meteors are hunks of space debris, flying through space at incredible speeds, becoming hotter and brighter as they go. As the heat gained from the friction between the debris and the particles in our atmosphere becomes greater and greater, the meteoroid starts to vaporize and emit light and is usually completely consumed about 100 km above the planet.
Bigger, brighter, longer lasting meteors with comet-like tails of light are known as fireballs; smaller, fainter meteors are often called shooting stars. The Perseid meteor shower is space dust and debris from the Comet Swift-Tuttle. When hundreds of meteors appear to originate from the same constellation, this is termed a meteor shower. The Perseid meteor shower originates from the constellation Perseus and is one of the most reliable showers to happen during the year. Perseus was a Greek hero who rescued Andromeda as she was chained to a rock, awaiting sacrifice to Cetus.
We are lucky this year, as the sky will be darker due to the new moon, and if we are very lucky the sky will even be clear enough to see the shower! Your best bet for stargazing is when the sky is darkest (between midnight and 4 am), and away from the artificial lights in town. If you are lying down, point your toes northeast and prepare to see up to 60 meteors per hour! Superstition holds that it is unlucky to point at a shooting star, and common sense says to bring a loved one and a few blankets, stay up late and enjoy the show.
Tofino is a perfect place to view the Perseid meteor shower in 2007.