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August 20, 2018

WCU department hosting meteor shower viewing at Waterrock Knob

Western Carolina University’s Department of Chemistry and Physics will be hosting a viewing of the Perseid meteor shower from 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 12, through sunrise on Monday, Aug. 13, at Waterrock Knob on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

“Early morning hours are when the greatest number of meteors per hour, up to 90, can be seen as we will be on the side of the Earth facing the stream of particles from comet Swift-Tuttle, which gives birth to this meteor shower,” said Enrique Gomez, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Physics. “This year, we will benefit from a low-waxing crescent moon, which will give little interference. However, people should be mindful of the typical summer weather pattern with evening storms and cloudiness.”

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.

WCU astronomy faculty also will have telescopes set up for participants to view Jupiter, Saturn and a relatively close Mars as well as various summertime star clusters and nebulae.

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

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