The Sky is Falling! Just kidding, it's the annual Perseid Meteor Shower.
Northern Minnesota’s night skies are spectacular for stargazing on any clear night. But this weekend there’s an extra special treat that we might be lucky enough to enjoy. If clear skies prevail as they are forecast now, it could be the kind of spectacular night show your kids will remember all their lives. Or maybe it’s the kind of moment with a special someone that’s usually reserved for Hollywood Rom-Coms. Whoever you may be with this weekend, or if you’re enjoying some solitude, don’t miss the chance to take in some magic. Or science. Observer’s choice.
Whether you prefer to appreciate the science, the magic, or the mystic behind it, it’s a gasp-inducing, goosebump-giving, shout-when-you-see-one experience to take in the wonder that is a meteor shower! This year, the Perseids meteor shower peaks the night of Sunday August 12, with the best visibility in the dark hours between 10pm and 5am. If you can’t stay up late on a school night, there should be plenty of sighting opportunities in the few days leading up to and after the peak. The moon will be just past new, making for a very dark and predicted to be clear, sky.
Here are some ideas to customize your own “Best Viewing Experience”:
- Pick your spot: A gradually sloped Superior ledge rock or beach or a dock on inland water gives lots of room to view the sky without trees. If the night is still, the water may create a perfect natural mirror to double the effects!
- Gear up: Grab a flashlight or headlamp to help you navigate to and from your spot. North Shore cool temperatures make ideal watching weather perfect for sweatshirts and picnic blankets. Which double as protection from the mosquitos who will undoubtedly want to join you for the sky show. Maybe bug spray is a good idea too. Blankets help keep you warm if you settle directly on the cool ground. For an even comfier production, add reclining lawn chairs or extra pillows.
- Snack selection: Shooting-star gazing unfolds slowly, but you don’t want to miss any either, so grab some snacks that don’t require much attention like granola bars, popcorn, or jerky. If you can eat it at the theater, it will work well here too! If you plan to enjoy for a while, don’t forget some water or summer sippers.
- Make it your own: Put your own stamp on your memory. Whether that means keeping count of how many you spot, taking it in without a sound at all, or deciding which term your crew likes best: meteor, meteorite, galactic dust, shooting star, falling star, make up your own… Just don’t forget to make wishes!
Is stargazing one of your favorite hobbies? You won't want to miss the first ever Dark Sky Caravan event coming to Cook County August 11 - 17, 2018.
The Dark Sky Caravan is a traveling planetarium provided by UMD's Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium. It is an inflatable dome with a digital display bring attendees on a journey across the universe. There will also be telescopes available for live sky viewing as conditions allow.