Imagine: The sky is dark. The stars, crystal-clear, sparkle overhead. The air is cool and you are wrapped snugly in a warm sweater, perhaps sipping on a cup of hot chocolate or coffee. Classical music is playing softly in the background and you hear "Oh! I saw one!" "There's another one!" This is a preview of the evenings of Aug. 11 and 12, the peak of the Perseids Meteor Shower, at Cape Disappointment State Park's Waikiki Beach Day Use Area.
From July 17 through Aug. 24, the Earth will be passing through a streak of ancient dust and debris. The particles, left over from the passing comet, Swift-Tuttle, will be raining down through our atmosphere in brilliant streaks of light as they burn to nothingness from the friction of their descent. This event is known as the Perseids Meteor Shower because the apparent source of the meteors, or the radiant, lies in the constellation of Perseus. Although the Perseids are not so thick as to deserve the name "shower," there will still be plenty to see as they fall at the rate of about 60 meteors an hour.
Waikiki Beach day-use area will be open after-hours for this special event on Aug. 11 and 12, from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. Bring your friends and family, chairs or blankets to sit upon, and warm clothes, and enjoy the soothing melodies of classical music as you enjoy a relaxing evening watching the stars.
To view this event from the comfort of your own backyard, look for the meteors in the northeast sky. You can find the constellation Perseus by following the cup of the Big Dipper past the North Star to Cassiopeia (the big W). Perseus is below Cassiopeia, to the left. The peak viewing times for this meteor shower are early in the morning, around 3 a.m., though any time of complete darkness should reveal falling stars.
Beerman Creek StringbandIf you'd rather stay in at night, come join us for daytime activities at the park. Two events begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 9: The Beerman Creek Stringband, the bluegrass house band for KMUN's radio show "Troll Radio Review," will be playing at the Waikiki Beach Amphitheater; and "Beach Explorations," the eighth in a series of 12 Junior Ranger programs, will meet at the Benson Beach Amphitheater for an hour of exploration and discovery on Benson Beach.
Julie Tennis is an Interpretive Specialist at Cape Disappointment State Park. To contact her, call the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center at 642-3029 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.