WCU astronomer hosting meteor shower viewing at Waterrock Knob

_DSC5506[2]A Western Carolina University faculty astronomer will host a viewing of the Perseid meteor shower from 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, through sunrise on Friday, Aug. 12, at Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Perseid meteor shower is taking place July 17 through Aug. 24 as the Earth passes through the path of the Comet Swift-Tuttle. Astronomers say the Perseids will be in “outburst” this year and appear at double the usual rates.

The early morning hours are when the most meteors can be seen, said event host Enrique Gomez, associate professor in WCU’s Department of Chemistry and Physics.

Participants are encouraged to dress warmly, as weather conditions at the Waterrock Knob parking area, where the viewing will take place at 5,820 feet in elevation, could be more like October than August. A lawn chair will provide a comfortable place from which to view the meteors, Gomez said.

Gomez also plans to erect his telescope to allow participants to view the moon and planets Jupiter, Mercury and Mars.

Waterrock Knob is located at parkway milepost 451.2, about eight miles northwest of Balsam. If skies are completely overcast, the event will be canceled. Updates on the status of the viewing will be available by calling Gomez at 828-227-2718.