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The night skies are a little brighter these days as the Earth once again travels through the Perseid meteor shower.

The annual meteor shower is one of Mother Nature’s best light shows, if she co-operates with clear skies, that is. Even if you’re not an astronomer or astronomy buff, the annual return of the Perseids can be a spectacular sight. This year, it takes place from July 17 through to Aug. 24, peaking on about Aug. 12.

As they have in past years, that’s the date the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory has chosen to enhance the experience with talks and by sharing the view from their home in a dark valley south of Penticton.

The gates to the observatory opening at 7:15 p.m on Aug. 12, with talks at 8 and 8:45 p.m., featuring Ken Tapping, Tom Landecker, Tony Willis and Alex Hill. By 9:30 p.m., dusk should allow viewing of the brightest meteors.

During the period of the shower, Tapping said you can ‘listen’ to the meteors by tuning your radio to 102.3 on the FM band. That’s actually the frequency for a radio station in Modesto, Calif., but as meteors enter the atmosphere they trigger a ‘skip’ effect and a short burst of the radio broadcast from 900 miles away.

There will also be planet viewings between 8 and 10:30 p.m. with Mark Garstin. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada-Okanagan Centre is also going to be on hand, setting up telescopes for the public to enjoy other celestial wonders.

The Penticton Air Cadets are hosting a cash-only concession in the lunchroom and the event concludes by 11 p.m., with gates closing at 11:30 p.m.

DRAO is located at the 717 White Lake Rd., just south of the junction of Highway 3 and Highway 97. Organizers recommend dressing warmly and bringing a blanket or lounge chair to watch for meteors in comfort. Admission is free.

Should inclement weather (ie. clouds) alter the quality of the meteor and telescope viewing, the grounds will still be open and talks presented.

For directions to the Observatory at White Lake visit nrc.canada.ca/node/932 or call 250-497-2300.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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