In August at Grayson Highlands State Park there will be an opportunity to make memories and relive old ones. The Perseid Meteor Shower is famous because it annually produces between 50 and 80 meteors per hour at the summer’s end.
There is nothing more nostalgic to me than watching a meteor shower. I have many memories from my childhood of dragging my sleeping bag out into the backyard, crawling inside, and gazing into the night sky with my family. Bright flashes of light only for a fleeting moment ignited shrieks of “oooohhhh,” or “aaaaahhhh.” It was so disappointing when someone would exclaim, “OH! Did you see that one?” and you ask, “where?” and by that time it was already gone. Then there were those rare shooting stars that light up the whole sky and you could trace their trail across the horizon with your finger.
"Twinkle twinkle little star"
This is the experience I was hoping to share with park guests for the Camelopardalids Meteor Shower program in May. According to astronomers, this shower was going to rival all others for the year, forecasting 200 or more meteors per hour! Another ranger and I had walked through the campground earlier that evening, talking with campers about how they could be a part of this extraordinary celestial event. At 9:30 p.m. we all gathered in the campground field carrying blankets, pillows, sleeping pads, and flashlights, ready to witness a spectacular show.
Wish upon a shooting star
After 15 minutes of watching…nothing. We had gotten out the laser pointer and star charts, pointing out planets and constellations. Then we heard a shrill yell “I see one!” A boy of about 4 years old was sitting up on his blanket and pointing towards the sky, telling us he could still see it. We all frantically scanned the sky, and directly in the middle was a slow moving white light. This was a satellite. We explained that there were many satellites in the sky and that you can find out online when and where they will be in the sky, and that this can even be done for the Hubble Telescope. A newfound excitement came over everyone as we were now watching for satellites too.
This says it all
Around 10:15 p.m., as the program was drawing to a close, as if on cue, everyone shouted and pointed in the sky. We had finally seen a shooting star. “Everyone make a wish!” I said. At the nights end, we had seen a total of 6 shooting stars and 11 satellites. The young boy came up to me afterwards and said, “Do you know what I wished for? More Shooting Stars!” His dad enlightened us that he had never been camping, or seen a shooting star, but his son would remember this trip to Grayson Highlands State Park forever.
Stargazers have been watching the Perseids for almost 2000 years.
Come on out August 12 and August 13, 2014 from 9:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. with your family, friends, blankets to lie on, and flashlights, and join us in a time to remember under the stars. Dress warmly just in case. There is no extra charge for this event.
For more information about this or any other program at Grayson Highlands, click here or call the park office at 276-579-7092.