Perseid meteor shower in August 2021. Photo courtesy of Nasa.gov/Bill Ingalls

Perseid meteor shower in August 2021. Photo courtesy of Nasa.gov/Bill Ingalls

Meteor showers light up August nights in the Pacific Northwest

Stargazers can track Perseids at sites around Washington state.

A dark sky full of stars stretches to the horizon, the scent of baked grass and pine fills the air, and dozens of pinpricks of light flash across the summer sky.

Throughout each year, there are many stargazing opportunities in the Pacific Northwest — including three meteor showers during August.

One of the most popular celestial events is the Perseid meteor shower, which takes place this year between July 14 through Sept. 1, peaking Aug. 13.

The peak of a meteor shower is the projected time when the most meteors can be seen.

At the Battle Point Astronomical Association (BPAA), the Perseids can be viewed at their monthly stargazing party on Aug. 13 at the Edwin E. Ritchie Observatory on Bainbridge Island.

The stargazing party will begin with a presentation about the meteor shower, presented by BPAA President Frank Petrie and BPAA Chief Astronomer Cole Rees.

The star party takes place on one of the projected peak days of the Perseid shower, but there may not be many meteors visible because of the nearly full super moon on the night of the event.

“Even though it’s the peak [on Aug. 13], we’re not going to see a lot of meteors because of the moonlight. So you might actually have a better chance of seeing meteors before the full moon or after the full moon,” said Petrie.

He said there will still be sights to see at the star party, specifically some famous planets and star clusters.

“If people want to stay out late, they will be treated to some nice views of Saturn and Jupiter, even though the moon will be full,” said Petrie. “There are star clusters that we can look at — the Great Cluster in Hercules [constellation] is a summertime favorite … There’s always stuff up in the sky that we can look at.”

Saturn rises around 10 p.m., and Jupiter follows at about 11:30 p.m.

Aside from the Perseids, there are two other meteor showers in the coming weeks. The Alpha-Capricornids, Delta Aquariids, and Perseids are observable until Aug. 15, Aug. 21, and Sept. 1, respectively.

These meteor showers get their names from the constellations they appear to originate from, otherwise known as their radiants: Capricorn, Aquarius and Perseus.

“If somebody were to go out any time in this next week, before the full moon starts to interfere, if you go out after midnight and just look up, you’re likely to see meteors from any of these three showers flying across the sky,” said Petrie.

One of the most important things to consider when planning a stargazing trip is to find a location with minimal light pollution, according to the NASA website.

A few good locations in Washington state to observe meteor showers are Sunrise Park at Mount Rainier, Olympic National Park and Hurricane Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula, and Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island, according to the BPAA website and earthsky.org, an astronomy website recommended by the BPAA.

BPAA is a nonprofit organization founded in 1992 that constructed and put to use the Ritchie Observatory, which was completed in 1997 on Bainbridge Island. The observatory houses the 27-inch Ritchie Telescope, a planetarium, workshop, library, and meeting room.

The observatory enables the public to take in the infinite sights of space through the Ritchie Telescope, the largest telescope accessible to the public in the Pacific Northwest.

BPAA is raising money to purchase a new planetarium projector so they can continue to give shows when the sky is too cloudy to use the telescope in real-time.

To find out more about the Perseids meteor shower and BPAA’s stargazing events or to make a donation, visit bpastro.org.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

Kids looking through telescope at Edwin E. Ritchie Observatory in Bainbridge Island, WA. Photo courtesy of Battle Point Astronomical Association.

Kids looking through telescope at Edwin E. Ritchie Observatory in Bainbridge Island, WA. Photo courtesy of Battle Point Astronomical Association.

Edwin E. Ritchie Telescope at Edwin E. Ritchie Observatory in Bainbridge Island, WA. Photo courtesy of Battle Point Astronomical Association.

Edwin E. Ritchie Telescope at Edwin E. Ritchie Observatory in Bainbridge Island, WA. Photo courtesy of Battle Point Astronomical Association.

Silhouette at Edwin E. Ritchie Observatory. Photo by John Benjes, courtesy of Frank Petrie.

Silhouette at Edwin E. Ritchie Observatory. Photo by John Benjes, courtesy of Frank Petrie.

More in Life

Renton resident Kat Lieu, author of “Modern Asian Baking at Home.” (Courtesy of Kat Lieu)
‘Subtle Asian Baking’ founder Kat Lieu publishes best-selling cookbook

After being told ‘Asian culture doesn’t sell,’ this Renton resident built a whole community.

t
Rainier Youth Choirs brings on new middle school choir director

Jackie Grant will lead choir; group draws students from Kent, Auburn, Federal Way and other cities

t
Disney On Ice returns to Kent’s ShoWare Center Oct. 26-30

Road Trip Adventures to feature Mickey Mouse and friends in nine shows

t
Cruisin’ Kent Car Show set for Aug. 28 at Kent Station

Free event to run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Perseid meteor shower in August 2021. Photo courtesy of Nasa.gov/Bill Ingalls
Meteor showers light up August nights in the Pacific Northwest

Stargazers can track Perseids at sites around Washington state.

t
People fill up downtown streets during Kent Cornucopia Days

Popular festival returns after two-year absence due to COVID-19

Jarod Newlove
Gold Star Family from Renton has breakfast at the White House

Jarod Newlove’s wife and children found comfort through Wear Blue: Run to Remember.

t
Kentridge High drama teacher earns Outstanding Educator award

Jennifer Grajewski honored by The Fifth Avenue Theatre; Kentwood, Kent-Meridian muscials also recognized