The Best Dark Sky Parks In The US To Catch The Perseid Meteor Shower This Weekend

08.08.18 9 months ago 2 Comments

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The comet Swift-Tuttle is the largest object that repeatedly passes earth. It last greeted us in 1992 and will next pass in 2126, but we travel through the comet’s dust every year, making the Perseid Meteor Shower an annual event. This weekend (August 12-13th) marks the peak period to view the Perseids across all of North America. Better still, viewing conditions this time around are particularly ideal — due to a new moon. Stargazers can expect to see 150-200 meteors an hour, complete with streaks and fireballs. Mars and Saturn will also be visible at different points.

If you’re a fan of summer skywatching, this weekend your chance. We promise: It’s worth the effort.

If you want to catch the Perseids in all their glory, a drive to the darkest place near your home should suffice. But for those who want to experience the meteor shower amped up to 11, getting to a “dark sky park” is an absolute must. These internationally recognized areas possess an exceptional quality of starry nights, making them ideal for shows like this one.

If you intend to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower this year, be sure to watch between midnight and dawn. That’s when the earth will have turned into the meteor stream, which means the show will be just above the horizon line. And if you’re intrepid enough to travel to a dark sky park, here are some of the absolute best in the United States.

Hovenweep National Monument – Colorado and Utah

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By the late 1200s — essentially yesterday, cosmically speaking — over 2,500 people called Hovenweep home. And human habitation in the area can be dated as far back as 10,000 years ago, making this dark sky park the most ancient site in America to view the Perseids.

Ancestral Puebloans built the towers of Hovenweep (how epic does that sound?) sometime between 500-1300 A.D. Their reasoning remains unclear to archeologists, but some have speculated the towers were built as defensive structures, storage facilities, civic buildings, or, you guessed it, celestial observatories.

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