The night skies will provide a free show in Evanston this weekend, with 50 to 100 shooting stars visible during the peak hours of this year's Perseid Meteor Show.
This astronomical phenonemon happens every year as the earth's orbit passes through the cloud of particles ejected by the Swift-Tuttle comet, according to the Illinois Science Council. As the earth's orbit coincides with the comet's 130-year orbit, "shooting stars" appear to radiate near the constellation called Perseus--hence the name "Perseid Meteor Shower."
The meteor shower is visible for several weeks each year, but activity peaks between Aug. 9 and 14. According to Space.com, the best time to see the meteor shower is after midnight, and viewers don't need a telescope.
For those who want to learn more about the phenomenon, the Illinois Science Council is hosting a free lecture and Q&A from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, at the . Northwestern University astronomer Dr. Laura Trouille will discuss the Perseid Meteor Shower and other objects in the night sky, while Field Museum geologist James Holstein will talk about meteorites that fall through the earth's atmosphere, and bring samples to show. Anyone interested is encouraged to reserve a seat in advance at www.Meteors.EventBrite.com.
On Saturday, Aug. 11, hours will be extended at , 2611 Sheridan Road, from 9 p.m. to midnight, so Evanston residents can sit out and enjoy the show. Montrose Beach in Chicago, at 4400 N. Lake Shore Drive, will also be open late Saturday and Sunday, with extended hours between 9 p.m. and midnight.