Delta Aquarids, Perseids: How To Watch Meteor Showers In Texas

Posted: July 30, 2019 in Announcements, Did you know?, General
Tags: ,

Summer meteor showers are firing up, yielding nature’s spectacle of lights high up in the night sky. And the show’s something of a double feature running through August, with the Perseid meteor shower overlapping with the Delta Aquarids. meteor_show

The problem is finding a dark-enough spot in which to watch the celestial show. Enter the Texas Parks & Wildlife to list some of the best place in Texas to watch and marvel.

To extend the show analogy further, think of the Delta Aquarid as the dress rehearsal to the highly anticipated, main feature that is the Perseid meteor shower for which sky-watching parties are being organized across the landscape below.

Both showers overlap in early August, and both events are already active. The Delta Aquarids, which officially started July 12 and run through Aug. 23, favor the Southern Hemisphere, but the show is still visible from mid-northern latitudes. Both peak here around Sunday, July 28, producing some 10 to 20 meteors an hour. What’s more, the approaching new moon on July 31-Aug. 1, will make for optimum viewing conditions.

The best viewing times are after midnight and before dawn, regardless of time zone.

If the meteor showers are the show, the sky is the screen. Unfortunately, some of those heavenly screens are better suited to project the action than others. Texas Parks & Wildlife officials report that night skies are fading as natural darkness disappears: "An estimated 80 percent of Americans have never seen the Milky Way," state parks officials wrote on their website. The culprit: The growing glow of artificial lights.

But there’s an effective workaround. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has partnered with the McDonald Observatory, the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) and local astronomy groups to promote stargazing in our state parks.

"We hope to raise awareness of preserving night skies with star parties, self-guided constellation tours and light pollution education programs," officials wrote. "In addition, we are reviewing our own lighting, and making changes to protect the night skies over our parks."

Big Bend Ranch, Enchanted Rock, Copper Breaks and South Llano River state parks are IDA Dark Sky Parks, while Devils River is an IDA Dark Sky Sanctuary, officials noted.

Through the showers’ run, The Perseids, which began July 17 and last through Aug. 24, will likely produce about 10-15 visible meteors per hour because the moon will be very close to full during the peak dates, from around Aug.11-13. For optimum effect officials at Earthsky advise star-gazers to start watching for the Perseids in the pre-dawn hours from Friday, Aug. 9, through Sunday, Aug. 11. On those dates, there will be more moon-free viewing time than during the peak dates, astronomers noted.

It’s a summertime favorite that shouldn’t be missed. Texas Parks & Wildlife officials have listed some of the best places to fix one’s gaze heavenward, and enjoy the show. For good measures, we’ve included star-watching parties beyond the meteor matinee through year’s end.

JULY 2019

July 31: New Moon Stargazing. Join Ranger Pick for a night of stargazing, stories, and planetary exploration. Visitors are welcome to bring their own binoculars and telescopes, but it is not required. Be sure to bring: Weather-appropriate clothing, snacks and Something to sit on. Location: Huntsville State Park, Old Equestrian stables. Time: 8:45 p.m. to 11 p.m. This is a single occurrence of a repeating event. View all dates. Map & directions. Contact: Ted Pick at (936) 355 – 9275 or ted.pick@tpwd.texas.gov

AUGUST 2019

Aug. 1: Hike-In Star Party. Take a 1/4-mile night hike to a star viewing area. Bring a chair or a blanket to sit on (something you don’t mind carrying down a trail). Take a walk on the starry side on the darkest night of the month. Meet up in the parking lot at Palmetto State Park’s historic CCC Refectory. Participants will walk approximately 1/4 mile of trail to the viewing location and then back again. Please bring a flashlight, a telescope if you have one and wear closed-toe shoes. Bring a chair or a blanket to sit on (something you don’t mind carrying down a trail with you). The group will walk to the long boardwalk on the Mesquite Flats trail and view the stars through a telescope. This program is free with regular admission to the park. ($3.00 for adults, children under 13 are free). Location: Palmetto State Park. Time: 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Contact: Liz Palfini at (830) 672-3266 or liz.palfini@tpwd.texas.gov. Get map & directions.

Aug. 3: Star party. Join rangers as they guide explorations of the night sky with telescopes while sharing stories about the stars. No flashlights allowed, only red lights to protect night vision. Staff will be able to loan out red light filters for flashlights on a limited basis. Follow signs for parking once you arrive in the park and we will be set up near the Nature Center parking lot. Location: Fort Parker State Park. Time 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Contact: Amanda Zumwalt (254) 562-5751 or via email at amanda.zumwalt@tpwd.texas.gov. Get map & directions.

Aug. 3: Starrytelling. This will be a night under the stars at Copper Breaks State Park, which is designated as an International Dark Sky. Participants will take a closer look at some of the constellations, what they mean to us and the stories behind them. This program subject to cancellation depending on weather. Participants should bring a camp chair, and dress for the weather. Contact the park office for more information at (940) 839-4331. Location: Big Pond Campground. Time: 8:45 p.m. to 10:15 p.m. Event is free with park entrance fee. Park entry free with Texas State Park Pass.

Aug. 3: Stargazing the Texas Night Sky. Observe stars, planets and constellation through the park telescopes while learning about constellations and basic astronomy. This is a come and go event. Come by any time between 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Location: Lone Star Amphitheater in Lake Mineral Wells State Park, 100 Park Road 71, Mineral Wells, TX, 76067. Time: 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. The program is free with paid park entrance fee or a State Park Pass. Contact: David Owens(940) 328-1171 ext 227 or david.owens@tpwd.texas.gov. Get map & directions.

Aug. 3: Starry Night. Dress for the weather, bring water, bring camp chairs or blankets for sky viewing. Meet at the the Wolfberry Day Use Area, park with headlights away from central. No fee for this program. Regular park entrance fee applies ($8 per adult, kids 12 and under are free). You can reserve your day pass and even print it ahead of time by clicking here. You can also read details on Facebook. Location: Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Time: 9:30 p.m. Contact: Lindsay Pannell at (806) 488-2227, extension 2067 or lindsay.pannell@tpwd.texas.gov. This is a single occurrence of a repeating event. View all dates. Get map & directions.

Aug. 4: Starry-Eyed and Star-Crossed. Learn about stars through storytelling. Participants will create star maps and learn to navigate the skies. Then, those participating will act out stories of constellations seen from the park, including: a starry-eyed story, a star-crossed story, and the story of our stars. After that, participants will name their own constellations and discover how we are all stars. Participants should bring their own water, weather-appropriate clothing, blankets/pillows, chairs and red flashlights/light pens. Park programs are open to the public and free with park entrance fee ($5 per persons ages 13 and up; children 12 and under are always free! Park entry free with Texas State Park Pass.). No need to register — just show up!Location: Cooper Lake State Park – Doctors Creek Unit. Time: 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Contact: Bianca Banda at (903) 395- 3100 or via email at bianca.banda@tpwd.texas.gov. Get map & directions.

Aug. 10: Perseids Meteor Shower 2019. The Group Primitive Camping area has been reserved for this annual event. Attendees should bring something comfortable to sit on, some snacks and some bug spray. Then, just relax and look upward for the celestial show. Pre-registration is not required but those wishing to attend are asked to fill out a Self Pay Envelope and write "Star gazing" so they know who is attending. Fees have been waived for this event from 8 p.m. until 9:45 p.m. "…so please feel free to come out for a relaxing evening watching the stars," officials said. Please remember the park gates close at 10 p.m. Location: Lake Tawakoni State. Time: 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Contact: Maria Shipley(903) 560-7123maria.shipley@tpwd.texas.gov. Get parkmap & directions.

CELESTIAL PRIMER

The Perseids radiate from the constellation Perseus, named after the hero Perseus in Greek mythology, near the famous Double Cluster. The constellation is found in the northern sky and is one of the largest. Finding the radiant point for the Perseids isn’t necessary because they fly in all parts of the sky.

The Delta Aquarids,when traced backward, appear to radiate from a point in front of the constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer, which arcs across the southern sky in North America. The radiant point for the Delta Aquarids nearly aligns with the star Skat (Delta Aquarii), for which the shower is named.

For both showers, find a dark, open sky. Be patient. It’ll take your eyes about 20 minutes to adjust to the darkness, and set aside at least an hour to view them. They can come in spurts, and there can be a lull between shooting stars. Bring along a blanket or reclining lawn chair and settle in to enjoy the show.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s