The Perseids meteor shower is expected to reach its peak Aug. 12. ~ File illustration

Perseids meteor shower peaks this weekend

Smoke might interfere with viewing, but the show goes on regardless

A partial eclipse will take place over Revelstoke this Monday, Aug. 21.

The moon will pass between the earth and the sun from 9:16 a.m. to 11:44 a.m. According to timeanddate.com, it will peak at 10:28 a.m., when the moon will cover about 83 per cent of the sun over Revelstoke.

If you want to see the full eclipse, you’ll have to drive down to Oregon or southern Idaho.

While most people will be tempted to stare at the sun, Ken Tapping, an astronomer with the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory outside Penticton, warns against looking at it without eye protection.

“Staring at the sun is dangerous. Even if you get up in the morning and see this deliciously red sun because of the smoke and it doesn’t look that bright, it doesn’t mean it is safe to stare at,” he said. “Your eyes might be seeing less light, but the infrared might be still coming in full strength. It is the infrared that gets focused on the back of your eye or does the damage.”

The Review is not aware of any stores in town selling special glasses to watch the eclipse. Parks Canada will be giving out free glasses at the Snow Forest Lookout in Mount Revelstoke National Park for those who can make the drive up the Meadows in the Sky Parkway.

But there is more to the eclipse than looking at the sun.

“Don’t just go out and look at the eclipse. During the eclipse, go around and look at what is happening around you. It is amazing,” said Tapping.

“There are all sorts of interesting things you can see during an eclipse if you just take note of what is happening around you. Birds stop singing, the lighting changes, things start to look different, things start to look weird.

“It’s a whole experience,” said Tapping.

This month is an interesting one for skywatchers, from professionals to casual observers.

There is the solar eclipse coming up on Aug. 21, but before that, there is the annual Perseids meteor shower, which peaks on Aug. 12.

Clouds sometimes interfere with viewing the spectacular light show, but this year, smoke is more likely to be the culprit.

Ken Tapping is an astronomer with the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory. (Photo courtesy David Szabo)
“With this smoke, we can’t tell exactly what is going to be going on on Saturday. We can hope,” said Ken Tapping, an astronomer with the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory outside Penticton.

With notes from Alex Cooper, Revelstoke Review