August meteor showers coming to Toronto and GTA
August is typically one of the best months to spot meteors in less light-polluted areas of Toronto and the GTA. In the past, I've posted about the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, which is set to peak this year on August 12th and 13th. One of the more consistent meteor showers, the Perseids also happen to fall at a time when many take the opportunity to head to cottage country, where viewing conditions are near ideal. Unfortunately, however, a full moon is set to rise on the 12th/13th, so the number of visible meteors will be significantly reduced in 2011.
But, not to fear, the space geek in all of us may still get a little satisfaction in the coming days anyway. The Perseid shower actually starts well before it peaks, and it'll be joined by the Delta Aquarid meteor shower, which takes place during late July and early August. And with a new moon in store for next week (between July 30th and August 5th), night and early morning skies will be free of natural light pollution â perfect conditions for viewing meteors.
It's always hard to predict how many meteors might be visible during a given period, but between the two showers, an estimate of about 20 per hour during the early morning hours of the coming week should be pretty safe. In other words, this year will lack a huge storm, but should offer steady viewing opportunities until the moon starts to interfere starting on August 6th.
As always, the key is to stay up as late as possible and to get to as dark a spot as possible in order see meteors. For those making night-trips out of the city the best bet would be to head east rather than south, as the radiant point of the Delta Aquarid meteor shower is to the south (which means driving north would result in looking back across the city). If you're well beyond the reach of Toronto's light, just lie back and look to south, and you'll likely be rewarded.
For more on these meteor showers, check out EarthSky's meteor shower guide.
Photo by Roozbeh Rokni in the blogTO Flickr pool
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