Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Shooting Stars

In case you missed Carly Rush's reminder on the All Request Lunch Hour on 92.9 KBEZ about the Perseid Meteor Shower peaking this evening, I'm here to tell you that, hey, people, the Perseid Meteor Shower is peaking this evening.

It's a show not to be missed. When its that time of year for this sky-wide light show to come around, right at the end of each summer, my little family and I evade the city lights by heading for my old stomping grounds along Highway 97.

After about 30 minutes of watching the sky in a place where there is no light pollution whatsoever, the heavens look like more than just a starry sky. They eyes adjust and a dusty-looking Milky Way and billions of stars start to peep out from their hiding places in the night sky.

Then, the show starts. Shooting stars start coming so fast that you have to chuck the idea you and your star-watching buddies adopted earlier in the evening when things were slow goin's of counting them on your fingers and toes.

Problem for you fine folks is, not everyone grew up in a ranch house in the middle of BFE. Folks with no parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and step-aunts twice removed with star-watching pads in the country deserve a good light show, too.

Depending upon what part of Tulsa you call home, check out one of these spots to spread out on a blanket with some snacks and a loved one or two (having the kids out would be nice, as long as they're not Broken Arrow or Union Public School students and have to head back to school tomorrow) to watch the shooting stars.

And I don't mean my old Sand Springs softball team, The Shooting Stars. Because that would be a miserable experience for you. Mostly because the sight of me sitting on my behonkus in the outfield playing in the sand and picking flowers as a line drive blows by my head would be more intense than the climax of an especially tense I Love Lucy show - you'll want to stomp and shout, and that's not what we're all about here. Not today.

Before you head out, check out what KOTV weatherman Travis Myer has to say about when and where to watch for these rogue dust particles in the night sky. Hint: If you want to see up to a meteor a minute, it's gonna be a very, very late night. Or, a very, very early morning, depending on how you look at things.

North. Lake Yahola, a reservoir near Mohawk Golf Course. There's good fishing to be had at Lake Yahola, too. Just be sure you have your state-issued fishing license before you go anglin'.

South. Skyline Park by Skyline Lake, another reservoir, located a mile and a half southeast of Jenks. It's dark there. Really dark.

East. The Village at Stone Wood Hills in Broken Arrow, home of the Tulsa area's Bass Pro Shop location along Highway 51. Head for the north side of the highest hills on the north side of the development to catch the least light pollution. Don't balk; if it's good enough for the Astronomy Club of Tulsa's Sidewalk Astronomy events, it's good enough for us.

West. Near Keystone Lake, or anywhere west of Sand Springs and far enough from the Keystone Expressway where you can park and mosey about without getting a 12-gauge shoved into the back of your neck. Try also the grounds of Discoveryland!, home of our local, nightly Oklahoma! production.

If you head out to any of these public places at the ungodly hour of the highest meteor shower activity, don't trespass in the name of amateur astronomy. Just don't. I can't have the weight of your unruly actions pressing down upon my shoulders. I just won't know what to do with myself.

I really, really won't know what to do with myself in the middle of the night when you call me from jail asking me to come bail you out because, heck, this was all my cockamamie idea in the first place. I'll probably just wake my ex-Army sniper husband, who can track a praying mantis through a spring rain in the woods, and ask him what he thinks about it.

For even more places to scope out the stars, check out this light pollution map. Hint: Look for places on the map in yellow or green rings for the locations with the best viewing-to-drive-time ratios. Be sure to install Google Earth before you try to view the map. You won't regret it.

Know of a great, legal place to do some star watching? Leave details in the comments.

Happy viewing, everyone.

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