Unless you're afraid of the dark, you'll want to find a lightless venue to watch the Perseid meteor shower over the weekend. The York County Parks Department has just the spot: Lake Redman.
The department's Perseid Meteor Shower Boat Ride at Kain County Park is "a unique opportunity to be out there on the water," says program coordinator Jeri Jones. The astronomy event will contend with "a little bit of light from York to the north, but our main direction we'll be watching will be to the east."
The fiery "shooting stars" are really the friction burns of a comet debris cloud striking Earth's atmosphere as the two pass each other in space. Jones will give program attendees a short lesson in the mythology and the science of the Perseids, so named because they appear to come from the constellation Perseus.
The parks program starts at 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, and runs until 2 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11. The viewing angle shifts with the rotation of the Earth.
"Up until midnight, it's like driving down a highway in a car and looking out the rear window," Jones says. "After midnight, it starts to turn around like you're looking out the front window of the car in a snowstorm, because it's all coming toward you, so you can see more meteors."
Peak viewing: The blitz can be significant during the Perseids. The peak is expected to hit Sunday night into Monday, but Saturday night should offer a spectacular show streaking across the sky.
"It's really pretty to get to see up to 60 an hour," Jones says. "For three to four days on either side, you'll see a good number of meteors, assuming that the weather is good."
Program participants can pay $20 per couple and use their own boats or pay $30 per couple and use a county-owned rowboat, pedal boat, canoe or kayak. Additional passengers are $2 each, and the maximum number of people in a craft is decided by each craft's weight limit. The county supplies safety gear, paddles and light refreshments, but attendees must bring their own flashlights. Each craft is legally required to carry a light, though the light doesn't need to be on at all times. To register for the program, call 840-7440.
"Being on the lake, we have good horizons the whole way around," Jones says. "You gotta be looking at the right time. ... It'll be a pretty cool night."
-- Reach Mel Barber at firstname.lastname@example.org.