Seek dark skies for Perseid meteor shower

Sunday August 5, 2012

Plan now to be in a dark sky area next weekend for summertime’s most anticipated celestial event, the Perseid meteor shower.

From late Friday night, Aug. 10, into the wee hours of Saturday, Aug. 11, and especially Saturday night until before dawn on Sunday is peak for catching so-called shooting or falling stars. Sunday night into Monday before dawn on Aug. 13 also holds promise. About a meteor a minute is possible at peak.

I’ve just returned from a visit to Oregon Observatory at Sunriver, near Bend, Oregon. It’s a dark sky destination, perhaps not for next weekend but to note for future travels. A family-friendly observatory that promotes astronomy education, it has one dome and a building with a surprising roll-off roof that houses a broad array of telescopes. About 20 scopes were set up the nights I visited. Many were equipped with ladders to the eyepiece, useful to adults and children alike. Viewing highlights were Saturn with its rings and the Double Cluster in Perseus, two star clusters that fill the eyepiece with an infinite number of stars. For information, visit

Local opportunities to ob serve the night sky with experienced stargazers are planned for next weekend at Mount Greylock and at the Amherst College Observatory.

For more infor mation, visit

For details about Perseid meteor shower watching on Mt. Pollux in Amherst contact Tom Whitney at (413) 256-6234 or www.astronomyassoci To observe the Per seids with family or solo, just look up wherever you are. This meteor shower is a full-sky phenomenon, and a few falling stars are bound to be visible even in cities.

Judy Isacoff, an environmental educator. Contact her at:


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