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The Perseid meteor shower will reach its peak Thursday and Friday nights. A Murieta neighbor is planning a meteor-viewing party for Friday night, and you’re invited.

The party organizer, David Scharlach, invites you to bring kids, lawn chairs and refreshments Friday night to the ridge top at Puerto Drive and Camino Del Lago, above Lake Calero. Be sure to park out on Puerto Drive so your vehicle’s headlights and dust don’t ruin the viewing for the people who are already there.

Scharlach will have a telescope on site, and if you have one, you’re invited to bring it along and share it with the others.

Predicting the quality of meteor showers isn't a certain thing. The radiant point for this shower, the constellation Perseus, will rise around 9:30, and the meteor shower will peak after midnight. Many people – including Scharlach – are predicting this year’s shower will be a remarkable one.

Perseid meteor shower

The meteors should creep above the horizon after 9:30 p.m. and peak after midnight. Click for larger image. Courtesy of Sky and Telescope

Here’s his invitation:

On Aug. 12, the Constellation Perseus will creep over the northern horizon around 9:30 p.m. and bring with it the great Perseid meteor shower.  It will have been going on for a number of days but will peak after midnight.  The quarter moon will be setting and will not be much of a problem.  Saturn and Mars will also be visible and all easily enjoyed in small telescopes.

If you only see one meteor shower every decade, this may be the one.  This year, astronomers predict "outbursts" that may generate between 150 to 200 meteors an hour!  My wife, Patty, will tell you that I can sound like a used car salesman when it comes to meteor showers, but this time chances of being right are excellent.

So, Friday night, bring your kids, lawn chairs, hot chocolate and cookies to the top of Puerto Drive above Lake Calero.  If you make it early, at 9:05 the International Space Station is scheduled to fly over us!  If you have a telescope and don't mind others taking a peek, bring it along.  The 10-inch-wide guided coffee can named "Blue Eyes" will be set up to share the night sky with you and the moon, Saturn, Mars, colorful double stars, globular star clusters, nebula and galaxies.

If you can, please park cars and carts on Puerto to keep the dust down and headlights out of dark-adapted eyeballs.  Then, just walk up to the ridge.  If you need a flashlight, please use a red lens or a red cellophane cover. Hope you can make it!

Clear Skies!

David Scharlach
Sacramento Valley Conservancy
Sacramento Valley Astronomical Society

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