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Preparing for the Perseids: Alpena’s Dark Skies

Posted on August 9th, 2017


Rockport State Recreation Area, courtesy Paul Gerow

The Perseid 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 the 3/4 moon will brighten the night sky a bit more than last year, however, we are still expecting a good show!


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 12th, peak night of the Perseid meteor showers. 

JOIN US SATURDAY NIGHT, August 12th, at the Rockport State Recreation Area designated dark sky preserve! Everyone is invited to participate in a free “Twilight Yoga” session with Sam Samson at approximately 9:30 pm near the picnic area at the park. (We recommend that you arrive a few minutes early to get situated). All you need to bring is a yoga mat or blanket.

At dusk, you will have a front row seat to the Perseids meteor shower in the dark sky over Lake Huron. Astronomy instructors from the Besser Museum for Northeast Michigan will be on hand to talk about how meteor showers happen, give a constellation tour, and talk about all things astronomy! 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.

Located just south of Alpena, Negwegon State Park and designated dark sky preseve will also be hosting a Meteors and S’mores on August 12th. 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. ******

Have fun!! 

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. 


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