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Save Your Pennies, Wish Upon A Star!

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August 20, 2010 by wcobserver

By Rebekah Spurlock,

Tonight offers one of the best celestial displays of the year –the Perseid meteor shower, and Devil’s Den State Park will be celebrating with a special out-of-this world viewing! The Perseid meteor shower is named after the constellation Perseus, which is the direction from which the meteors appear to “shoot”. However, debris from the Swift –Tuttle comet is the source of the Perseid meteors.

Each year, the earth passes through the meteor stream left by the Swift-Tuttle comet. Meteor streams like this are thought to result from small parts of the comet that have become detached, or melted away, from the main body of the comet as it approached near the sun. Small pieces of the comet, some as tiny as grains of sand, become scattered along the length of the comet’s orbit around the sun. When the Earth’s orbit intersects with the resultant stream of particles, they burn up in the atmosphere creating “shooting stars.”

Conditions this year are optimal for viewing the meteor shower, which is expected to peak tonight. Many of the meteoroids are the size of a speck of dust, but as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of 133,000 miles per hour, they can be seen as glowing streaks through the sky. Occasionally softball sized meteoroids will create large fireballs.

Devil’s Den State Park Interpreter Adam Leslie will talk about the stars and why this awesome event is happening tonight at 9:30 in the field by the playground and large pavilion. Some items that will make the program more enjoyable are a blanket or chair and binoculars or a telescope. If you don’t have a telescope or binoculars don’t worry the park has a telescope that will be set up.  Do not miss your chance to make your wishes come true, and it won’t cost you a cent.

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