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Perseid meteor shower parties in Joshua Tree and Lake Tahoe

August 10, 2011|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
(David McChesney )

The Perseid meteor shower makes for the best celestial light show of the year. The spectacular shooting stars in the night sky are pretty easy to find. Just drive to a dark spot and look up. But it might be more fun to join a star party or online chat to connect with the light show that's expected to peak between 2 and 4:45 a.m. Saturday.

The Perseid Meteor Shower Star Party in Landers, Calif. (near Joshua Tree), organized by the Mojave Desert Land Trust, starts at 7 p.m. Saturday at an offbeat desert venue called the Integratron, a domed building built in the 1950s with a perfect sound chamber. It's also a perfect spot for stargazing.

At the party, telescope-toting astronomers and Joshua Tree National Park rangers will present programs about the night sky, Clive Wright will perform live music and a "sound bath" will be presented inside the sound chamber before the party ends at midnight. Admission costs $55 for adults; children 12 and younger are free. (Add $30 if you want to camp out and stay over). Tickets are available online at the land trust's website or call (760) 366-5440.

Farther north, Squaw Valley ski resort near Lake Tahoe hosts a high-country camp-out at 8,200 feet Friday night. Campers arrive via cable car starting at 5 p.m., stargazing instructions and programs begin at 6:30 p.m. and viewing starts at 10 p.m. Continental breakfast is served Saturday morning. The camp-out costs $75 for adults and $50 for children 15 and younger. Call (530) 583-6985 for reservations.

And those who don't want to leave home (or the couch) can watch NASA's live feed of the Perseids via a camera mounted at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. You'll also hear the "blips, pings and whistles" of meteors zipping through the sky, according to the space agency's website. You also can join a live chat with NASA astronomer Bill Cooke that begins at 8 p.m. PDT Friday. 

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