Perseid Meteor Shower Star Party – August 11, 2009

(from our friends at OMSI in Portland, OR)
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is getting ready for its largest star party of the year on August 11! Stargazers will be meeting at both Rooster Rock State Park and Stub Stewart State Park at 9 p.m. to watch and enjoy the wonder of the Perseid Meteor Shower.

August brings one of the year’s most famous and enjoyed meteor shower – the Perseid Meteor Shower. Hundreds of star lovers from across the Pacific Northwest are expected to attend OMSI’s biggest star show of the year. The event is sponsored by OMSI, the Rose City Astronomers, the Vancouver Sidewalk Astronomers and Oregon Parks and Recreations. At both Rooster Rock State Park and L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park, volunteers will have set up telescopes for attendees to use.

The Perseid Meteor Shower occurs when the Earth enters the path of debris left by the comet Swift-Tuttle in its last trip past the Sun. Swift-Tuttle follows a highly eccentric orbit around the Sun with an orbital period of about 130 years. The comet last passed by the Earth in December 1992.

Timing is not precise, but the 2009 peak is expected on August 12th at around 8:00 a.m. PDT (15.00 hours UT). There is some uncertainty, so it’s very worthwhile to observe on either side of this time. The OMSI Star Parties will be held on the night of August 11 and into the early morning of August 12. This strong annual shower can produce 20 to 60 meteors an hour, though because of the light pollution and other factors, “many are too faint to see with the naked eye,” says Jim Todd, OMSI’s Planetarium manager. “Still, an observer in a dark subdivision can hope to see few meteors on the peak nights. And there is also a potentially prominent waning gibbous Moon to contend with. It will not set below the horizon until the early hours of the morning. Under these conditions, you might see a Perseid or two each minute.”

To reach Rooster Rock State Park, take I-84 east of the Sandy River at exit 25. The park is located 22 miles east of Portland. To reach L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park, take US-26 west of Portland and turn right on OR-47. The park is located 23 miles west of Portland. The event is free, and there is a $3 per vehicle parking fee for public. For possible weather cancellation, call (503) 797-4610 on August 11 after 4:00 PM to get the latest information.

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