Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tomorrow evening (or for that matter just before dawn today- August 12) will be the optimum time for viewing what is usually the most spectacular meteor shower of the year- the Perseids. The estimated time of the peak (these things are never exact) is at about 15:00 Universal Time tomorrow afternoon. This translates into a Winnipeg time of 10:00 am. Fear not and do not despair. The Perseid meteor shower is actually quite a long drawn out affair,and an excess of meteors may be observed from July 23 to August 22. The Winnipeg branch of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada actually plans to hold their Perseid viewing gathering next Sunday, August 15, out at Bird's Hill Park, just northeast of the city. The view of meteors is, of course, best seen at a dark location outside of a city, such as Bird's Hill Park. Just as a fyi, however, the Astronomical Society will apparently have their telescopes out, for public education, at the Italian Pavilion down on Wilkes Ave. during this week of Folklorama. Telescopes are of no use for viewing meteors, but those interested can gain an appreciation of the hobby from members who will be present there. The occasion, Italy wise, is the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope. Would that we could celebrate a centenary of the end of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the Holy Inquisition) who condemned Galileo, but that institution still exists today.

Sunset tomorrow here in Winnipeg is at 8:52 pm, and Moonrise (the Moon interferes with good viewing of meteors) is at 10:52 pm. For those in locations outside of the Central Time Zone please consult the Time and Date website to convert the time of the Perseid peak (and Sunset and Moonrise) to your local time. According to said website the weather conditions here in Winnipeg for tomorrow evening will be "partially cloudy". The Environment Canada site predicts "a few clouds for tomorrow evening. One of the best sites, the Clear Dark Sky site, says that the sky will be basically clear until Midnight, with clouds in the wee hours of Thursday, but clearing about 4:00am. The Clear Dark Sky site is actually one of the best sites to consult because it contains far more parameters than just cloud cover. It is also the site for readers anywhere on the North American continent because it will give viewing conditions for hundreds of sites elsewhere on this continent. So...if you don't live in the centre of the universe known as Winnipeg consult this site to see whether your viewing conditions for the Perseids will be good, bad or indifferent.
By the way, Molly has blogged extensively on the Perseid meteor shower before. If I fail to repost items from previous years (which might happen because of my schedule) try searching "Perseids" on this blog for much more information of this event.

1 comment:

Emily said...

The information at this web site reflects my personal interests in amateur astronomy