Growing up on the prairies, Gregory Arkos recalls seeing the northern lights on a fairly regular basis. Now living on Vancouver Island, he considers it a rare treat to see them at all.
It’s one of many solar events Arkos keeps his eyes out for; the Vancouver Island University professor in the department of physics, engineering and astronomy regularly looks to the sky and describes what people can expect throughout summer evenings in the next episode of the Record’s Off The Page podcast set to be released July 13.
Many events this summer can be viewed across the Island without any special equipment — he recommends a dark space, a chair, a beverage in hand and a pair of binoculars if a closer look is required.
One event he’s looking forward to is the Perseids meteor show this summer, set for August.
“It’s nice because it’s in the summer, so it can be outside and it’s warm … I think the peak will be somewhere around Aug. 12 and 13. The problem then is that the full moon is right around there … So my suggestion would be actually to maybe go past that date because the full moon happens and then the peak happens. So if you look you look a week afterward you’ll have darker skies.”
He said it is possible to see a meteor or two per minute, generally anytime past 10 p.m.
Additionally, he says one consistent item in the sky is the International Space Station which orbits every 90 minutes.
To view the ISS, Arkos recommends checking the NASA website to find the specific time the space shuttle will be over the skies of Vancouver Island.
“It moves pretty fast — a couple of minutes across the whole sky. So if you haven’t had a chance to see that, it’s kind of fun to actually see it and have a look at it cruising by and think there are human beings … 400 kilometres up there, and they’re waving at you.”
While it takes place later in the year — in November — Arkos another event to keep an eye out for is a total lunar eclipse. He notes it will be an early morning eclipse (after midnight) but, “it can be quite spectacular.”
As for looking at the bigger picture of space exploration and civilians making their way into space, Arkos explains human beings are ultimately explorers and that curiosity has driven the entire length of human civilizations to look at what is beyond the horizon.
“I think that what we get back from doing this is that we understand the universe and ourselves better,” he adds.
New episodes of Off The Page drop every Wednesday.
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