Few witness meteor shower over Central Alberta

They say good things happen to those who wait, and Brian Gilchrist had to wait until 5 a.m. The artist and photographer was on his balcony in downtown Red Deer early Wednesday when he saw two meteors between 5 and 5:30 a.m.

They say good things happen to those who wait, and Brian Gilchrist had to wait until 5 a.m. The artist and photographer was on his balcony in downtown Red Deer early Wednesday when he saw two meteors between 5 and 5:30 a.m.

The meteors, which Gilchrist described as “bright streaks of light,” were part of the Geminids meteor shower, which happens every year in the middle of December.

Bob Gosselin, a physics instructor at Red Deer College, said meteor showers are the result of the Earth moving through debris fields caused by a comet falling apart. The Earth passes through the same debris fields each time it moves around the sun, he said, so we usually get the same showers happening at the same time each year. However, they’re not always very visible.

As a result of a very bright moon and hazy visibility, conditions for the shower on Wednesday night weren’t very good for most of the night, Gosselin said, so only the people willing to stay up late, brave the cold and wait for the sky to clear had a chance of spotting a meteor.

Gilchrist happened to be sitting outside with a coffee when the sky cleared up enough for meteors to be visible.

“I just happened to be at the right place at the right time, and looking up.”

For interested astronomy enthusiasts, the next meteor shower is expected to be Jan. 3.