Come to Nicolet Beach at Peninsula State Park on Aug. 11 at 8:45 pm. Enjoy a 30-minute PowerPoint program about the night sky and learn to identify summer constellations. Once skies darken, look through a high-powered telescope, watching for “shooting stars” of the Perseids. Star experts will answer questions and point out the best of the night sky until 10 pm, depending on interest. Peninsula State Park is closed to the non-camping public from 11 pm to 6:30 am each day. This program is free and open to the public, but a state park vehicle sticker is required. For more information, call the nature center at 920.854.5976.
Every August, Earth passes through a band of cosmic debris called the Perseid meteoroids, many no bigger than a grain of sand. Meteoroids burn up as the enter Earth’s atmosphere. Best days for 2017 Perseids are Aug. 11 and 12. To get their bearings, stargazers should look northeast, searching for the constellation Cassiopeia (the giant W in the sky). As Cassiopeia rises, look down toward the horizon where the constellation Perseus ascends. The Perseid meteor shower lies between these two constellations.
A bright waning moon is on tap, but won’t rise until after 10 pm. This “gibbous” moon may outshine the small falling stars in the pre-dawn hours, which usually offer the greatest number of meteors. Graduate students from Universe in the Park, UW-Madison, will present the program on Aug. 11. Bring a blanket or lawn chair, and mosquito repellant. The PowerPoint program will be moved inside the Nature Center if it rains.