Perseid meteor shower will peak in Oregon skies this week


    These photos were taken during the Perseid meteor shower between 12:30 and 4 a.m. Saturday, August 13, 2016, outside Maupin, Oregon, in a canyon along the Deschutes River.Mark Graves | The Oregonian/

    The Perseid meteor shower is back this summer, peaking this week in the night sky over Oregon and offering a small slice of astronomical normalcy in an otherwise turbulent time.

    Meteors are expected to peak the night of Aug. 11 to 12, according to the International Meteor Organization, with the best viewing coming after midnight through about 4 a.m. Viewing the meteors this year may be hampered, however, by the brightness of the half moon and the lack of organized events around the Portland area.

    The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry typically hosts Perseid meteor shower star parties at Rooster Rock and L.L. Stub Stewart state parks, but both have been canceled this year because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

    Stargazing is not allowed at L.L. Stub Stewart at all this summer, with the park closing to the public at 9 p.m., and all restrooms closing at 7 p.m. to discourage visitors from lingering late into the evening. Rooster Rock also closes to the public at 9 p.m.

    Some popular areas to stargaze are closed completely due to the pandemic, including Crown Point and many other spots in the Columbia River Gorge. Before heading out to a stargazing spot, check to make sure it will be open, and consider sticking close to home to comply with Gov. Kate Brown’s stay home order.

    Jim Todd, director of space and science education at OMSI, said people should be able to see some meteors in the city, about one to 10 per hour, but the odds go up significantly under darker skies, where up to 30 meteors per hour may be visible.

    More meteors are usually visible in the annual event (about 60 to 100 per hour, in some years), but this year the show will be affected by the moon, which will be in its last quarter and will rise around midnight on the night of Aug. 11.

    Todd said OMSI is refraining from suggesting any specific places for people to go watch the meteor shower this year, to discourage crowding and illegal parking.

    “I just say look toward the northeast, away from the city lights,” Todd said. “Just be out there, keep your eyes open … and look up.”

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