I am happy to tell you that I was able to cross off another awesome item in my bucket list – witnessing a meteor shower! We made a lot of preparations to achieve this bucket list item and I am glad we did. It is an unforgettable experience unlike any other. ♥ Read our exciting late night adventure/road trip and get tips for your own meteor shower experience.
Midnight Road Trip
Our night started with a crazy drive. We left the city at around 9 PM, thinking that it would give us enough allowance for the 2-hour drive to Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve. Based on our research, the peak of the Perseid meteor shower would occur between late night to pre-dawn. We thought it was better to drive late since we will be spending the entire night watching the shooting stars.
It was our first time to go to Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve. When we were already only 15 mins. away, we noticed that the road started to become narrower and unpaved. It also became harder to see our surroundings because of the extreme darkness. There was nothing else in sight other than the trees, some raccoons and our headlights. Those 15 minutes felt like eternity as we tried to drive safely through the road. Our imaginations went wild and our senses heightened. We even drove past a cemetery! There were several times when one of us wanted to back out but we didn’t want to regret losing our chance to see the meteor shower. Good thing, we didn’t!
Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve
Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve was the nearest, dark place outside the city. It was also included in the top suggestions for watching meteor showers near our location. When we arrived, the parking was almost full. People were inside their cars, waiting for the meteor shower. We were actually relieved to see those many cars after driving in paranoia!
Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve was an excellent location for watching the meteor shower. We had a clear, wide view of the dark sky. There is a big difference between a city night sky and the sky at Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve.
The Perfect Set-up
A big part of my excitement for this trip was being able to watch the meteor shower in the cozy, romantic setting I have always imagined. We laid out a soft blanket at the back of the pick-up truck and brought some pillows. It was the most comfortable way to look at the sky directly. At that moment, we had our own perfect world.
Other groups also finished setting up their spaces. Those who drove pick-up trucks had chairs at the back of the trucks while another group laid out a blanket on the ground.
Sky, Stars, and the Milky Way
It took a long time for the meteor shower to begin. We were nervous at first because it was too cloudy and the moon was still bright. We were unsure if we would be able to see the meteor shower. Like the Northern Lights, there should not be any clouds or light pollution.
As the clouds started to clear, we were able to see stars. Soon, the sky was filled with stars! It was gorgeous!! I have not seen these many stars before. The view was absolutely breathtaking.
After a few minutes, we noticed a glowing band in the middle of the sky. We realized that we spotted the Milky Way! ♥ Wow! It was my first time to see the Milky Way and to see it first-hand was unbelievable!
Not long after the sky has cleared up, we were able to see streaks of shooting stars, some brighter and more beautiful than others. Although the shooting stars quickly passed through the sky, we were able to spot at least one shooting star per minute. They came from all directions. It was amazing!! ♥ For several minutes or hours, we were just lying at the back of the pick-up truck being mesmerized by this spectacular event.
6 Tips on Seeing the Meteor Shower:
1. Know When to See the Meteor Shower
Don’t leave this kind of celestial event to chance. I have always wanted to see a meteor shower but without knowing the schedule of meteor shower events, I missed several opportunities. Fortunately, there are many online astronomy resources that provide a calendar of upcoming meteor shower events. Although meteor showers can still be unpredictable, due to weather, for example, the best chance of seeing them is still through the suggested dates.
2. Find The Perfect Location
The perfect location for watching a meteor shower is the darkest place possible. Light pollution should be minimal to none if you want to see the bright stars.
Research the best and darkest place to see the meteor shower nearest to your location. Choose a safe, dark park with wide, open views. You might need to drive a few hours away from the city at the middle of the night but, believe me, it’s worth it. It is not the same as seeing it in the city where light pollution is high.
If you want to join a group, there are also organizations that hold viewing parties for these meteor shower events. Research, research, research! 🙂
3. Drive Early
Unless you really know the way to your chosen location, drive early! Since it is supposedly a very dark location, it would be difficult to drive. Avoid our mistake!
If you choose a popular location, there is a high chance that there will also be others who would want to watch the meteor shower from that location. Arrive early so that you get to pick a good spot!
4. Pack for Your Comfort
Since watching a meteor shower takes a long time, it is advisable to be as comfortable as you can. Bring some blanket, pillows, sweater, portable chair (if you don’t have space to lie down) and insect repellent for parks.
5. Be Patient
It takes a lot of time and the perfect setting to see the meteor shower at its best. When we left the city, we were uncertain if we would see the meteor shower that night because of the weather. We waited for an hour after arriving Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve for the meteor shower to begin.
6. Show Courtesy to Others
Aside from being a distraction, the use of light is highly discouraged so that the eyes can adjust to the darkness. Enjoy your time away from the busy city!
Did you see the latest meteor shower?
If you didn’t, don’t worry! There are still several meteor showers expected this year. Here’s an online resource that provides a Meteor Shower Calendar for 2016: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/meteor-showers-in-2016/
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Check out the other items in my bucket list and the items we’ve already crossed off! Read my bucket list post here.