THE PERSEID METEOR SHOWER IS ONE OF THE MOST HIGHLY ANTICIPATED CELESTIAL EVENTS ON ASTRONOMERS’ CALENDARS. AND THERE’S NO BETTER PLACE TO WATCH THAN IN THE WORLD’S SECOND LARGEST DARK SKY PRESERVE.
It’s a marvelous spectacle to behold: sparkling lights streak across the night sky, hinting at the fireballs of debris that burn up in Earth’s atmosphere every August.
The Perseids are visible from mid-July through most of August, but they reach their peak in the very early morning on August 13 (or the very late night of August 12, if you prefer). Unfortunately this year’s show coincides with the approach of the Full Moon, so it’s recommended that you set an alarm just before the moon sets around 4 a.m. Dawn will begin to suggest it’s arrival merely 15 minutes later.
Astronomy magazine recommends finding a dark site (not to boast, but our skies are designated as the darkest around) and positioning yourself so that a building or tree blocks your view of the moon low in the southwest. You still may not see as many “shooting stars” as other years, but a rate of a dozen or so per hour is still an improvement over most other meteor showers.
How did the Perseids get their name? The meteors originate from the Comet Swift-Tuttle and become visible to Earth as our planet passes through the dustiest part of the Comet’s path. But from the ground looking up, they seem to come from the direction of the constellation Perseus.
Can’t make it to Jasper for the Perseid meteor shower? The Jasper Dark Sky Festival is happening October 18-27. Get your tickets now!