Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Perseid Meteor Shower

For my latest assignment for the HCCVB blog, Mom and I packed blankets, lawn chairs, my camera, tripod, and remote trigger, and we headed to McCloud Nature Park to see the Perseid Meteor Shower.

This annual meteor shower peaked over the weekend (very convenient), and at its height, experts predicted that we could see up to 60 meteors per hour. We didn't see nearly that many (it happened in the wee hours of the morning...way past my bedtime), but in the couple hours we were gazing, we did get to see some great shooting stars.

This park hosts the Indiana Astronomy Society once a month during the summer, and they welcome the public to come for free and peer through the eyepiece of their telescopes. The program on Saturday night was a special event for the meteor shower, and I wasn't sure how many people we'd be joining. Mom and I actually looked at each other and said, "Well, we could be the only people there, but that's okay."

So we were wonderfully surprised when we drove into the park and saw a full parking lot and dozens of people already camped out, waiting for darkness to fall. By the time it was truly dark, there were more than 100 people there. I was thrilled to see that kind of turnout for a park program.

It's been years since I did any night sky photography, and this just got me itching to do more!

Stargazing at McCloud Nature Park

I will never forget the first time I looked through the eyepiece on a telescope and saw the rings of Saturn with my own two eyes. Sure, I’d been learning about our solar system for years in science class at school, but truly grasping the existence of other planets and celestial bodies can only go so far when you’re learning from a textbook.

Seeing it for yourself, though, even if it’s small and hasn’t been richly colored in photo-editing software—seeing the rings of Saturn, the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, and multiple moons orbiting these planets… it makes it all real. Read more... 

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