Stars Shine for Dunes Perseid Event

Every 365 days, debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet hurl towards Earth at breakneck speeds.  These tiny particles come alive and light up the night sky with streaks of white, gold, or even blue.  Known today as the Perseid Meteor Shower, it is the most famous of all meteor showers.  It never fails to provide an impressive display and, due to its summertime appearance, it tends to provide the majority of meteors seen by non-astronomy enthusiasts.

heaven's above beach pavilionThis meteor shower gets the name “Perseids” because it appears to radiate from the constellation Perseus. An observer in the Northern Hemisphere can start seeing Perseid meteors as early as July 23, when one meteor every hour or so could be visible. During the next three weeks, there is a slow build-up. It is possible to spot five Perseids per hour at the beginning of August and perhaps 15 per hour by August 10. The Perseids rapidly increase to a peak of 50-80 meteors per hour by the night of August 12/13 and then rapidly decline to about 10 per hour by August 15. The last night meteors are likely to be seen from this meteor shower is August 22, when an observer might see a Perseid every hour or so.

The Indiana Dunes State Park Interpretive Services will again be hosting its 5th Annual Perseid Meteor Stargaze on Saturday, August 13 from 8:30pm to 11pm at the Indiana Dunes State Park Beach Pavilion area.   Stories on Native American sky lore will kick things off with the State Park Interpretive Naturalists.  By 9:00pm, the stars will begin to appear.  Constellation talks will highlight the many star formations that can be viewed over the dunes this time of year.  Afterwards, visitors are welcome to bring a blanket or chair to view the many “shooting stars” that take place during the Perseid meteor shower every year at this time.

For this blogger, it’s an annual thrill to hear the oohs and ahhs from the hundreds of park visitors sprawled out on the beach sand staring into the heavens.  Mark your calendar now and plan to join us late into the night. All activities are weather dependant and free after the standard $5.00 per vehicle ($10.00 out of state) entrance gate fee. For more information, contact the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center (219) 926-1390.

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