On the night of Wednesday, August 12 and heading into the early morning hours of the following Thursday, the Perseid Meteor Shower will be at its peak, and with clear skies and a new moon in the forecast, it should be the most visible it’s been in years.
The meteor that causes the yearly shower is named Swift-Tuttle and is caused by ice and dust particles burning up in Earth’s atmosphere, resulting in a beautiful show in the sky.
But according to astronomer Derek Kief with the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, the Swift-Tuttle meteor is one of the most dangerous threats to Earth’s existence.
“It’s the largest object in our solar system that repeatedly has close approaches to the Earth,” Kief told Vancity Buzz.
By “close approaches”, Kief means the comet is 22 million kilometres away from Earth at its closest points, but if the 26-kilometre long meteor were to hit our planet, life as we know it would end.
On that note, there are some amazing spots to witness the Perseids in Metro Vancouver. Kief recommends staying northeast of the city and facing away from any light pollution from Vancouver.
Here are 10 places in the Metro Vancouver area to watch the Perseids in all their (dangerous) glory:
Queen Elizabeth Park
As the highest point in Vancouver at 152 metres above sea level, Queen Elizabeth Park might be an idyllic location, as long as you face away from the city lights.
Where: 4600 Cambie Street, Vancouver
This Provincial Park located along the Sea To Sky Highway sits just before Squamish and is far enough away from the lights of Vancouver to give a clear view of the Perseids.
Note that the following restrictions apply:
A person must not, between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. the following day, enter or remain in a campground except
- A) a person who is the member of a registered party, group or youth group, or
- B) as authorized by a park officer.
Except as authorized by a park officer, a person must not, between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. the following day, enter or remain in a day use area.
Where: Squamish-Lillooet D, B.C.
One of the more coveted “dark-sky sites” among astronomy buffs, this park in Abbotsford promises plenty of pitch black darkness to view the Perseids, but be warned: the park is “day use” only, so your vehicle could get locked in.
Where: Sumas Prairie, Abbotsford
Located North of West Vancouver and accessible through Highway 99, Lions Bay is a sleepy municipality with plenty of spots near the beach to star gaze. It is easily accessible, but if you blink, you might miss it.
Where: North of West Vancouver, off Highway 99
North Woodlands is a little-known spot in North Vancouver that’s mostly residential but is truly an escape from the city and is perfect for stargazing. Head into Deep Cove and then up a narrow, winding road amid thick forest vegetation to find your way there.
Where: North Woodlands, Deep Cove, North Vancouver
Lynn Canyon Park
Lynn Canyon fits more of the criteria for top Perseids viewing – remote (but not too remote), Northeast of Vancouver, and heavily forested.
Where: 3663 Park Road, North Vancouver
Far enough away from Vancouver that light pollution shouldn’t ruin the viewing experience, this local mountain could make a great spot.
Where: 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver
Mount Seymour is another great local mountain option. Just minutes from downtown, it’s easy to access and will provide great views.
Where: Mt. Seymour, North Vancouver
This West Vancouver mountain is just off Highway 1 and provides idyllic views of the sky from a more Westerly perspective.
Where: 6000 Cypress Road Bowl, West Vancouver
A fair distance from the city, this West Vancouver park is probably the most romantic of the options, with a secluded feel and beautiful beachfronts competing to steal the show from the Perseid Meteor Shower.
Where: 7120 Marine Drive, West Vancouver