‘It was incredible’: Perseid meteor shower dazzles Island stargazers

Photo: Raymond Champagne
Photographer Raymond Champagne used his Canon camera to capture this photograph of the Perseid meteor shower above Miracle Beach, north of Courtenay, around 1 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023. Reflecting on the event, he told CHEK News it was an "amazing experience."

Stargazers on Vancouver Island were in for a show this weekend when the annual Perseid meteor shower reached its peak, painting the night sky with swift streaks of luminous light.

On Saturday night, photographer Julie Boyer headed to the beach in Lantzville, north of Nanaimo, hoping to catch the light display on camera.

And she was in luck. Equipped with her smartphone, which has an astrophotography app, Boyer snapped photos of the meteor shower between 10-11:30 p.m.

“I’ve seen falling stars, but not to this extent,” said Boyer. “The streak was so bright, I’ve never seen anything like it. It was really spectacular.”

But she wasn’t alone — two other photographers joined her and captured their own photos.

“It was nice to have company,” exclaimed Boyer.

Leading up to the spectacle, Lauri Roche, a member of the board of directors for the Friends of the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, said the annual summer shower is “the best ones” because of favourable weather conditions.

“You don’t need anything else except just a relaxing lawn chair or lying down on the beach,” said Roche. “You want to have the biggest sky that you possibly can. You don’t need binoculars, you don’t need telescopes, you just need a wide sky.”

Speaking with CHEK News last Friday, she said that while the shower would start later that night, its peak would be on Aug. 13 between midnight and 3 a.m. 

That’s when Island photographer Raymond Champagne had his wide-angle lens poised for photos of the shower above Miracle Beach, halfway between Courtenay and Campbell River.

“This was an amazing experience, and I plan to attempt some more in the future,” Champagne told CHEK News Sunday, noting he took the photos around 1 a.m.

“I have three years photography experience and have never attempted meteor shower photography before,” he added. “I currently specialize in wildlife, nature and pets, so this was way out of my normal.”

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) says this meteor shower gets its name from the constellation Perseus, which is where the stream of comet debris originates as the Earth moves through the comet’s path.

The debris, comprising mainly of small clumps of rock or iron, is called meteors when entering Earth’s atmosphere, generating bursts of light upon impact.

“…as these little wee tiny bits of dust are coming into Earth’s atmosphere, they’re going really fast, like 60 kilometres per second or something like that,” added Roche. “And then they heat up, and then we see them as streaks across the sky. So that’s what’s happening every time we see any of those.”

Now Boyer’s admiring her photos in awe. “It was a great experience,” she added. “It was incredible.”

The CSA has more details on its website.

Julie Boyer captured this photo of the Perseid meteor shower from Lantzville on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023.

Raymond Champagne captured this photo at Miracle Beach north of Courtenay on Sunday, Aug. 13, 2023.

Ethan Morneau

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