The Perseid Meteor Shower is trekking across the skies in its annual summertime display, peaking on the weekend of August 10. This is the best time of year to go stargazing. Here are some ideal places for meteor viewing due to minimal environmental and light pollution from urban centers. The Perseids come every year beginning in late July and stretching into August. Among the many nights of the shower, there is always the one night that the viewing of the shower is at its best.
At its peak around 10 p.m., expect to see about 50 meteors per hour, each traveling at 38 miles per second. This year’s peak is a weekend, starting on Friday, August 9th. Plan your getaway trip now. With a full moon last weekend, August 11 skies should be nice and dark.
California: The famed resort near Lake Tahoe at Squaw Valley is holding a Family Campout at the luxurious pool complex, High Camp, that allows optimal viewing of the meteor showers plus night swimming. Reservations required.
Michigan: The exclusive resort areas of Harbor Springs and Petoskey offer warm summer evenings capped by densely black skies, perfect for viewing. Stafford’s Bay View Inn is a historic lodge with waterfront accoutrements. Bring a blanket, lie on the grass next to Lake Michigan and enjoy the dark night skies.
Washington: The entire Puget Sound area offers islands of delight away from central Seattle. Cross a bridge, take a ferry, or find a waterfront and you’re all set.
Florida: Central Florida residents may see two light shows depending on the weather. The first show begins at twilight when the glow of the sun is on the horizon. Mars, Venus and Saturn can be seen in the west near the moon.
Hawaii: The islands offer all you’ll need for star-gazing with family or a romantic partner. Volcanic areas up-country or cool, sparkling beaches overlooking the dark ocean would be ideal. On the big island, stop in at the famed Mauna Kea Hotel after dark and watch giant manta rays swim under the hotel’s promenade, lit by underwater lights. It’s an unforgettable moment.
Best viewing tips.
Get away from the city lights. Choose an area like the beach away from lights and with a wide open view of the skies. Look to the northeast.
If you’re taking pictures, make sure the exposures can last at least a minute if not longer and aim the camera at a 30-degree angle, rather than straight up, which is the worst thing to do.
Get more information on when and where to travel to see meteors:
Star Date magazine: http://stardate.org/nightsky/meteors/
Meteor Showers Online: http://www.meteorshowersonline.com/perseids.html