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 Evanston and Chicago residents have a special opportunity to view the annual Perseid Meteor Shower of shooting stars the evenings of August 10th and 11th this year.  The Illinois Science Council announces extended access hours at Evanston’s Lighthouse beach and Chicago’s 12th Street and Montrose beaches on Saturday August 10 and Sunday, August 11 so people can use the lakefront to look for shooting stars. The City of Evanston will extend access hours at Lighthouse Beach from 9:00pm until midnight.  Participants need to remain on the beach. So bring a blanket and your sweetie (and probably bug spray), sit back and enjoy shooting stars in the night sky!

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)

Best viewing of this annual astronomical event is in the night sky in mid-August.  In 2013, the Perseids’ peak activity takes place August 10-13 in the evenings through pre-dawn hours.  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.  The moon phase this year – a thin waxing crescent – also helps.  It will not be too bright to interfere with viewing on that date, provided the sky is clear of clouds.

The Perseid Meteor Shower phenomenon occurs when the earth’s orbit passes through the cloud of particles ejected from the comet Swift-Tuttle as it travels on its 130-year orbit.  The Perseids are so-called because the point from which they appear to come in the sky, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Perseus.  This display of “shooting stars” is visible in the night sky for several weeks each year, with peak activity between August 9 and 14.  They can be seen all across the sky, but because of the Swift-Tuttle’s orbit path, Perseids are primarily visible in the northern hemisphere.