Every summer, meteors light up our skies | Explore | Awesome Activities & Fun Facts | CBC Kids

CBC Kids | Play Games, Watch Video, Explore

explore,article,

Every summer, meteors light up our skies

 

The Perseid meteor shower, planes and satellites light up the sky in this very long exposure photo. United Kingdom, 2016. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)


The Perseid meteor shower is an annual event.
Bright meteors fall through the sky and light up our summer nights.
Before you try to spot these shooting stars,
let’s get the facts about the out of this world event!


Long trails of light and colour

a 30-second exposure shows a bright meteor in the sky

In this 30 second exposure, a meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower Friday, Aug. 12, 2016 in West Virginia. (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Perseid meteor shower is considered one of the best meteor showers you can watch from Earth. They're called the Perseids, for short.

Fast and bright meteors (small rocky or metallic bodies in outer space) streak through the sky. They leave long trails of light and colour behind them for us to see.

This shower happens when the Earth passes through space dust. This dust was left behind by a huge comet called the Swift-Tuttle that last approached Earth in 1992. 


The summer meteor showers

infographic showing the difference between meteroids, meteorites and meteors

What's the difference between meteoroids, meteors and meteorites? (images by ivanmogilevchik/123RF)

In 2019, the meteor shower takes place between July 17 and August 24.

It will be at its best and brightest on the night of August 12 to 13.


The comets are burning up

a photo from space of a meteor

What a shooting star (Perseid meteor) looks like from the International Space Station, 2011. (NASA)

The Perseids are visible each year from mid-July until the middle of August.

When you see the Perseid meteor shower, you’re actually watching pieces of comet fragments burn up in the sky.

The comet pieces are only about the size of pebbles. But they let out a bright burst of light as they burn up.

And that’s why you see fiery streaks in the sky.


Meteors visible in Canada

an overlap photo of 29 meteors

29 photos merged into one from one night of watching the Perseids shows a lot of meteors lighting up the sky. Balack Rock Desert, 2015. (Photo credit: Trevor Bexon on Visualhunt.com / CC BY)

The Perseids are visible in Canadian skies.

However, the moon is expected to be very bright. Scientists say we might not see as many meteors this year as in years past.

But you should be able to spot nearly 20 meteors each hour. In years when there isn’t much moonlight, you can see up to 200 meteors an hour!


You have to wait until it's really dark

silhouette of a stargazer against the night sky

A stargazer waits for the Perseid meteor show to begin near Bobcaygeon, Ontario, 2015. (Fred Thornhill/Reuters)

The Perseids will be most visible after 10 p.m. local time.

You and your family should watch from the darkest location you can find. The darker the better.

If you live outside the bright lights of the city, you don’t need binoculars or a telescope. Just sit back, get comfy and look up to the sky.

But binoculars or a telescope might help if you're in the city. It will be harder to see the meteor shower with all the city lights. 

With a little patience, you should be able to spot the Perseids. Happy meteor gazing!

 

Image by Rani Suarni from Pixabay