Contemplate the Perseids in Quebec
By Ariane Arpin-Delorme
The Perseids meteor showers, are one of the unmissable activities year after year. The fascination with these elusive thin beams of light is so old that you can't tell when it dates back to. It undoubtedly leads us to eagerly scan the sky like few other celestial objects. This beauty can be admired across Quebec, under favorable conditions.
To better observe this fabulous spectacle and not to miss anything, we offer you some tips as well as 5 of the best places to view them.
*In 2021, the moon will be a thinner crescent for a while, which makes it possible to envisage almost ideal astronomical conditions!
What are the Perseids?
Contrary to popular belief, the Perseids are not stars. They are actually small grains of cosmic sand burning up as they enter our atmosphere.
Each year, the Earth passes through a cloud of dust left behind by the comet Swift–Tuttle . Each year as our planet returns to the same spot on its orbit around the sun, the meteor showers return annually. During this period, it’s possible to observe up to 80 shooting stars per hour, known as a meteor shower.
Tips to fully enjoy the spectacle of the Perseids
- Choose the right period: the Perseids are visible between July 20 and August 25;
- Prioritize the optimal viewing time: which is after midnight and just before the first light of dawn. The early evening also has its advantages. It is at this moment that we can see the "grazing" shooting stars, these meteors which graze the atmosphere and which have the particularity of creating very long trails;
- Avoid light (lampposts, signs, homes and other sources of light interference that obscure the sky);
- Simply raise your eyes to the sky;
- Stay away from buildings, trees and all other elements of the landscape that block the view of the sky;
- Move away from urban centers;
- Dress comfortably and warmly;
- Observe as much of the sky as possible with one glance. Do not restrict yourself to too small a part of the sky. Do not stare where a shooting star has just been seen, as the next one is unlikely to be in the same spot;
- Consult the forecasts;
- Prioritize a clear and cloudless sky;
- Avoid evenings with a full moon.
The 5 best places in Quebec to observe the Perseids
1-Mont-Mégantic National Park - Eastern Townships
Two public observatories as well as numerous telescopes and observation instruments will allow you to discover the splendours of space and the universe. In the evening, look up to the sky of the first international dark sky reserve and take the time to observe the Perseids. You can also take advantage of the moment to climb to the top and visit the Observatory with its 1.6-meter telescope. In the evening, you can also participate in an astronomy evening at the ASTROlab or at the Popular Observatory.https://www.astrolab.qc.ca
2-Mont Cosmos, Saint-Elzéar-de-Beauce - Chaudière-Appalaches
Far from any light pollution and offering a clear view of the sky above the valley of the St. Lawrence, Mont Cosmos has been a suitable site for more than 40 years for the observation of shooting stars. In total darkness, a team of volunteers from the Mont Cosmos association and researchers from Laval University offer public observation sessions as well as astrophotography demonstrations. This is one of the most beautiful places to observe the Perseids in Quebec!http://www.montcosmos.com
3-Oka National Park - Laurentians
Also standing out for the richness of its historical heritage (including Calvary, its 4 oratories and its 3 chapels), Oka National Park also offers a peaceful place to enjoy an exceptional view of the Perseids. In the Grande Baie and the Serpents River, land and water come together to give birth to ecological gems: wetlands. At the top of the Calvaire d'Oka trail, an exceptional view opens up to Lac des Deux Montagnes and the Adirondacks.https://www.sepaq.com/pq/oka
4-Mont-Bélair Natural Park, Val-Bélair - Quebec
Located on the outdoor La Découverte base, in the enchanting setting of the Mont-Bélair Natural Park, the Astronomical Observatory of Discovery (OAD) has unique facilities. Thus providing amateurs with an introduction to astronomy, including the observation of the Perseids. It offers insiders and non-initiates the observation of galaxies, star clusters, nebulae, planets of our solar system and shooting stars.https://www.parcsnaturelsquebec.org/quebec/la-haute-saint-charles/parc-naturel-du-mont-belair
5-Saint-Zénon outfitter - Lanaudière
A whole magical observation of the Perseids at the enchanting site on the grounds of the Pourvoirie Saint-Zénon. Besides the absence of light pollution, the top of the mountain near Lac Carotte is very dry. Which actually makes it easier to observe this shower of stars. Here you can explore the sky using telescopes and sophisticated devices that allow you to observe and photograph the Perseids.http://pourvoirie-stzenon.com