Astronomers at the University of Calgary’s Rothney Observatory are inviting everyone to take a look at the vast reaches of outer space for the second night of a special event.

The annual Milky Way event night is an opportunity for anyone to take a look through the powerful optical telescope at the facility on the night of the new moon.

“The new moon phase is actually occurring on August 11 and what that creates is some very nice dark skies for observing. The special bonus this year is that it’s also falling as the peak period for the Perseid meteor shower. So, if the skies are clear, we should be able to see about 40 to 60 meteors per hour,” said Jennifer Howse, a spokesperson for Rothney. “It’s a spectacular show in the sky.”

Howse says they have a few hundred people come out to experience the event every year.

“[It’s] the chance to do some observing alongside our astrophysics researchers here at the observatory.”

While wildfire smoke is causing visibility issues in Calgary during the day on Saturday, Howse says the telescopes can be affected by those same adverse conditions.

“The telescopes are optical telescopes so they see the same light as the human eye, so when you look up and you see smoke and humidity in the sky that also shows that the telescopes are going to have trouble detecting the star light.”

She adds that it’s forecasted to clear up by the evening and anyone interested in making the trip to Priddis can check out the observatory’s website for a real-time image of sky conditions.

The Rothney Observatory is open from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. and admission is by donation.