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Perseid meteor shower will be visible from Chicago suburbs

Friday, August 09, 2013
Perseid meteor

[FILE] In this photo released by SkyandTelescope.com a Perseid meteor flashes across the constellation Andromeda, in this 8-minute exposure taken in Florence Junction, Ariz. (AP Photo/SkyandTelescope.com, Rick Scott and Joe Orman)

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A light show - the natural kind - will be playing in suburban Chicago.

The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reports astronomers say scores of meteors will blaze across the sky above the suburbs from Saturday night through the early morning hours of Tuesday.

If the clouds aren't too thick, the annual Perseid meteor shower will be easy to spot. Astronomer Larry Ciupik of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago says it would be a good idea to grab a lawn chair, face northeast and watch the show. As many as 100 meteors per hour are expected to hit the atmosphere.

There are a number of viewing parties scheduled across Illinois, including one at the Spring Valley Nature Center in Schaumburg and Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

Chicago Montrose Beach and 12th Street Beach will be open until midnight on August 10 and 11th so people can watch for the Perseid Meteor Shower. The extended beach hours will allow for the best possible meteor-viewing within the city.

"While stargazing in Chicago is hampered by light pollution, the city's position west of the lake is fortunate. Ideal viewing for Chicagoans, if you can't drive away from the city to darker areas, is along the lakefront, facing northeast away from city lights and toward rising stars," according to a news release from the Illinois Science Council.

Also contributing to ideal viewing conditions - the moon's phase, a thin waxing crescent, which won't be too bright. Cloud cover is the only uncertainty.

The Illinois Science Council worked with the Chicago Park District to keep the Montrose and 12th Street beaches open. Evanston will also open its Lighthouse Beach Park, but people have to stay on the beach.

Meteor Viewing 2013:

  • Saturday, August 10 9:00pm - 12:00 midnight
  • Sunday, August 11 9:00pm - 12:00 midnight
  • Chicago's 12th Street Beach (on Northerly Island south of Adler Planetarium)
  • Chicago's Montrose Beach, (4400 North Lake Shore Drive)
  • Evanston's Lighthouse Beach Park, 2611 Sheridan Road (at Central Street)

The Perseid Meteor Shower happens every year when the earth's orbit passes through the cloud of particles following the Swift-Tuttle comet, which is on a 130-year orbit. The shooting stars are called the Perseid Meteor Shower because they appear to come from the constellation Perseus.

The Perseids are mainly visible in the northern hemisphere. Peak activity is August 9-14, 2013.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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