Olentangy Valley News

Falling stars light way for night-hikers at park

This weekend's event allows rare after-dark look at preserve, ideal view of meteor shower

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The Perseid meteor shower shines brighter than any other annual meteor shower, according to NASA.

Preservation Parks will make it even easier to witness the thousands of shooting stars flying through the atmosphere next weekend when it hosts its annual Perseid Meteor Shower Campout at Blues Creek Preserve, 9627 Fontanelle Road in Ostrander.

"It's just always an adventure to sleep outside, and then making your wishes come true when you wish on a shooting star is just icing on the cake," said Saundra McBrearty, Preservation Parks special event and volunteer coordinator.

The 10th annual event will kick off at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. Once campers have their tents pitched, they can gather around a bonfire to learn what meteors are and how they work.

Dr. Robert Harmon, chairman and professor of physics and astronomy at Ohio Wesleyan University, and Patrick Craig from Dayton, known as "the Outreach Astronomer," will be on hand to share their stargazing equipment and their knowledge.

At about 8:45 p.m., campers can head out on a night hike to explore the nocturnal animals in the preserve, which typically closes at dusk. McBrearty said the first meteors should appear during the hike.

"After the hike, people can do their own thing, whether that's sit by the campfire, go to sleep at mid-night or stay up all night," McBrearty said.

"We don't plan any other activities, like a cookout or morning breakfast, because it's really about watching the stars, and people leave excited because they usually get to see about 20 shooting stars."

McBrearty said the campout has been moved to different locations over the years, but Blues Creek Preserve has proven to be the best, because it's nowhere near city or suburban lights that could drown out the stars.

The park can accommodate only 100 campers, so early registration is required for the free campout. McBrearty said late last week that there still are about 40 spots left. They can be reserved by emailing her at saundras@preservationparks. com or calling 740-524-8600, ext. 6.

No food or drinks will be available, so campers must bring their own. There also is no running water at the preserve.

McBrearty said families are invited, but pets are not.

The Perseid meteor shower has been observed for about 2,000 years and is expected to peak Aug. 12 or 13.

Because the new moon will be near Saturn in the evening, a colorful sunset should welcome campers.

"Our parks close at sunset each day," McBrearty said, "so it's a special opportunity to be in the parks at night and have this experience."

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