The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is getting ready for its largest star party of the year on Thursday, August 12! 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 according to the American Meteor Society, the 2010 peak is expected on August 12th at around 5:00 p.m. PDT (0100 hours UT on August 13). 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 12 and into the early morning of August 13. Estimate peak rates for this year’s Perseid is near 60 for those under transparent rural skies. Those under dark but hazy skies should still be able to see 30-40 Perseids per hour. Those under urban skies will be lucky to exceed 20 per hour. The waxing crescent moon will set at 9:23 p.m. on August 12 and will be a non-factor for viewing the Perseids.
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 $5 per vehicle parking fee for public. For possible weather cancellation, call (503) 797-4610 on August 12 after 4:00 PM to get the latest information.