Saturday, July 30, 2016

2016 Perseid Watch Party

Come join us for a FREE Perseid watch party on Thursday evening, Aug. 11, 2016 - weather permitting!

What is it? The Perseid meteor shower is an annual event in late July and early August. Meteors are sometimes called shooting stars - they're actually small chunks of rock that usually burn up in the atmosphere and leave a streak of light behind.

Location: Just east of Mountainaire, AZ, our observing spot is the large meadow near the fork of E Homestead Lane and Forest Rd 235c.

Time: Set up around 7pm, enjoy the sunset, meteor observing starts around 8pm. If the weather is clear we'll be there until the wee hours of the morning. Stay for as long as you like. FYI, meteor showers are often best in the pre-dawn hours, so early risers might take a glance at the sky in the hours before sunrise.

Bring: Lawn chairs (reclining or gravity chairs work best), blankets and/or sleeping bags, warm clothes/jackets (even in August it gets chilly at night!), red flashlights or headlamps. Got a telescope or binoculars of your own? Bring 'em along, the more the merrier! Maybe pack a sunset picnic if you like. And a thermos of cocoa, tea or hot cider goes down really well once the evening chill sets in.

What to expect: A small, friendly gathering of sky enthusiasts, chatting in the dark and teaching each other about astronomy. New to observing or unsure if you'll fit in? No worries - we welcome newbies with open arms. Ask questions, we'll help you learn all about constellations, planets, and of course meteor showers!

We might set up the big scope just for fun but you don't really need it for meteor watching. This year we're excited about a possible outburst of this annual shower. There may be as many as 200 meteors per hour! Fingers crossed the monsoons will give us a little break.

Some observing tips:
1. Check the weather - if it's raining or overcast we will cancel. If that happens we'll try to reschedule for the next night, Friday August 12. Questions? Call or text 575-418-9372.
2. Please try to arrive and set up before dark, especially if you plan to bring your own scope or lawn chairs, or if you are frail or prone to trip in the dark.
3. If you do come in after dark, please park up the road a little ways, near the trees, with your headlights pointed away from the meadow. We recommend you approach using only parking lights if you can safely do so. Walk the remaining few yards to the meadow using your red flashlights - be cautious of hidden rocks, bumps and holes! You'll see us gathered down the south fork of the dirt road, out in the treeless area.
4. People's eyes will become dark-adapted and bright lights will ruin our night vision, so be considerate and point flashlights only at the ground, never directly at people's faces if you can help it.
5. Bear in mind that you'll have to pack up and leave in the dark so plan accordingly.
6. There are no facilities in the meadow, consider using the restroom elsewhere. See #9 below.
7. This is a family-friendly event, accompanied kids are welcome. Any drunk people will be frowned upon. Let's keep it classy, folks.
8. Keep the meadow clean - kindly take your trash out with you.
9. Please RSVP if you plan to join us - send a text with the number in your group to 575-418-9372. I'd like a headcount to be better prepared. We're aiming for a small (20ish) group of locals, but as a free event this has the potential to grow. If we have more than 25, forest rules say we're supposed to provide a porta-potty... an expensive amenity. If any generous folks are willing to contribute to that, please call me.
10. Bring your curiosity and share your enthusiasm with us all!


  1. Check out this wonderful and informative article about the Perseid shower by Mr. Kevin Schindler, Historian at Lowell Observatory:

  2. Sorry the link above does not seem to be active... try a copy & paste into your browser.