Meteor shower to light up Alberta sky

Hundreds of shooting stars are expected to brighten the skies above the province this weekend as the Perseid meteor shower hits its peak.

Albertans looking to the sky Saturday night should be treated to a spectacular light show. As many as 100 meteors an hour will streak through the sky as the Perseid meteor shower hits its peak.

"You know, I have twin eight-year-olds, so it might be a cool idea to keep them up so they can watch it. Maybe I don’t believe so much on wishing on stars anymore, but I’m sure they would find it pretty magic," said Stony Plain resident Daniel Berger, who plans to watch the shower tonight.

The show happens every year as the Earth passes through the dust cloud left by a comet.

"The comet isn’t anywhere near us right now, but its dust is still trailing behind it," said Alan Dyer, astronomer at Calgary’s Telus Spark Centre.

"And we pass through this dust stream. And what you see are brief streaks of light burning up in the atmosphere after they enter the atmosphere at very high speeds."

NASA says the best times to see the shower are just before dawn on August 11 and 12, although they should be visible as early as 10:00 p.m.

While the meteors will be bright enough to see without a telescope, Trevor Prentice, staff scientist at the Telus World of Science in Edmonton, says skygazers will have to get out of the city.

"Inside the city there's a lot of light pollution from our street lights and cars and houses and things like that," he said.

"So if you can get away from the city lights, that will give you a chance of seeing some meteors."

Scientists say this year's meteor shower will be particularly bright, because the moon isn't full and will leave the sky darker.