Perseid Meteor Shower: Light show arrives this week, camp on a mountaintop

Posted By: The Ski Channel on August 10, 2010 10:45 am

Not to be outdone by last week’s incredible northern lights appearance, the sky will fall once again this Wednesday with the arrival of the annual Perseid Meteor Shower.

The Perseids come every year beginning in late July and stretching into August. The “shooting stars” promise to deliver an excellent show this year to anyone with clear and dark skies away from urban and suburban lights. Sky watchers can witness colorful fireballs, occasional outbursts and almost always, long hours of gracefully streaking meteors.

The best time to watch for meteors will be from the late-night hours of Wednesday, Aug. 11 on through the predawn hours of Aug. 13 – two full nights and early mornings. Patient skywatchers with good conditions could see up to 60 shooting stars an hour or more.

Among the many nights of the shower, there is always the one night that the viewing of the shower is at its best. This year, that evening falls on Thursday, Aug. 12, a night that scientists predict to be the best viewing opportunity in the last 5 years. Sky watchers can witness colorful fireballs, occasional outbursts and almost always, long hours of gracefully streaking meteors.

One of the best ways to get a clear sight of the light show is to get out of the city, and camp on a mountaintop. Luckily, at least one resort has made this idea surprisingly easy, as on Thursday, August 12, California’s Squaw Valley will host a Perseid Meteor Shower Family Campout. Families can camp under the stars and watch the night sky light-up from an elevation of 8200 feet at the best viewing location in Lake Tahoe, Squaw Valley USA’s High Camp.

Perseid Meteor Shower campers can upload the Cable Car lift between 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Upon arriving at High Camp, guests have the option of starting off the evening with a sunset hike around Squaw Valley’s upper mountain peaks or eating dinner at the mountaintop cafe. Following, there will be an informational briefing on telescopes as well as campfire activities and at 10 p.m., the meteor shower viewing will begin. In the morning, from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., campers will enjoy a continental breakfast before downloading the Cable Car.

The camp-out costs $72 for those 16 and up, and $48 for those 15 and under. The cost includes professional stargazers on site to assist guests with questions about meteor showers, viewing telescopes, the campsite, High Camp evening activities (ice skating and swimming) and continental breakfast. Optional dinner at High Camp is not included.

Reservations for the Perseid Meteor Shower Campout are required and this event does sell out so register early.