Preparing for the Perseids; Alpena’s Dark Skies

The Perseids meteor shower is about to make another grand entrance into our night sky, and you will not want to miss this one!

This annual occurrence takes place between the dates of July 17th-August 24th. The Perseid meteor shower is always a brilliant cosmic event, with anywhere from 80-200 meteors occurring in an hour! This year we have a new moon on Saturday, which will darken the skies and make this year’s meteor shower more visible than last year.

A Rockport starry night; photo by Paul Gerow

What brings on the Perseid meteor shower year after year? Every year we pass through a patch of comet dust from the remnants of Comet Swift-Tuttle, left behind in its orbit around the sun in the year 1862, 1479, and 1079. We are literally watching ancient comet dust blast through our atmosphere and light up the night sky! How did the Perseids get their name? The Perseids are named such due to the point in which they appear to fall from, known as the radiant in the constellation of Perseus. Bringing forth Perseids, meaning “son of Perseus” in Greek mythology.

Lucky us! We have 3 nationally recognized dark sky preserves in the Alpena area for a premium viewing experience, so you can pick which one is closest to you to watch this cosmic event. Thompson’s Harbor State Park, Negwegon State Park, and Rockport State Recreation Area are the places to be on August 11th & 12th, peak nights of the Perseid meteor showers.

JOIN US SATURDAY NIGHT August 11th, at the Rockport State Recreation Area designated dark sky preserve. Everyone is invited to participate in the free “Meteors n’ S’mores” event hosted by Friends of Rockport. S’mores and campfire will be provided. Remember to bring blankets, seating, bug spray and snacks to enjoy the show. You can stay as late as you like! For details call Hoeft State Park at 989-734-2543 or visit the Friends of Rockport Facebook page.


JOIN US SUNDAY NIGHT August 12th at Negwegon State Park designated dark sky preserve for a second “Meteors and S’mores” event! A small campfire and s’mores will be provided, along with a pristine stargazing opportunity. Participants should meet at the main beach. Bring blankets, seating, bug spray, and snacks. For more information contact Harrisville State Park at 989-724-5126.

***Don’t forget to make sure your car license plate has the Recreation Passport “P” on it in order to enter the park. If not, passports will be available at the park entrance.***

Fun Facts: What’s the difference?

Meteor– a small body of matter from outer space that enters the Earth’s atmosphere, becoming incandescent as a result of friction, appearing as a streak of light.

Meteorite– a meteor that survives passage through the Earth’s atmosphere such that part of it hits the ground.

Meteoroid– a small body moving in the solar system that would become a meteor if it enters Earth’s atmosphere.

Alpena Convention & Visitors Bureau
420 N. 2nd Ave. • Alpena, MI 49707
(989) 340-2288
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