Summertime and shooting stars go together. Earth spins us into prime seating for spectacular night shows of meteor showers.
According to Wildomar resident John Garrett, who serves as vice president of the Temecula Valley Astronomers, the Delta Aquarids on July 28-29 will be an opening act for a big star-studded show on Aug. 11-12 when the flashy Perseids dazzle with 60 to 80 falling stars an hour.
Members of the Temecula Valley Astronomers, dedicated to sparking interest in astronomy, plan to set up telescopes for a public Perseids-watching party on Aug. 11 at Lake Skinner.
A meteor is space debris hitting Earth's atmosphere and burning up in a flash of streaking light.
When Earth passes near comet debris, we see meteor showers that include the famed Perseids, named for the constellation from which they appear to radiate.
The Delta Aquarids on July 28-29 will be a warm-up show, according to Garrett.
This year, however, to get good views of 15-20 meteors an hour, everyone will have to wait for the moon to set and the skies to darken for better views, he said. Garrett plans to set the alarm for around 2-3 a.m. and then look to the east and southeast.
Best viewing for any meteor shower is in as dark skies as possible; haze and lights and too much moonlight will block the show, he said. Don't let trees, buildings or hills block the view.
The Perseids may be more family-friendly. This year they promise to offer more dazzling displays earlier in the night skies, Garrett said.
The star-watching party from 8-9 p.m. on Aug. 11 at the regional park, 37701 Warren Road, Winchester, will be free, according to Riverside County Parks officials.
John Garrett's Bright Stars Wildomar blog
NASA's Watch the Skies blog