Western Welcome Week officially kicks off with a fireworks show and concert in Sterne Park on Aug. 13, but the unofficial beginning will take place a night earlier as Mother Nature puts on a …
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Western Welcome Week officially kicks off with a fireworks show and concert in Sterne Park on Aug. 13, but the unofficial beginning will take place a night earlier as Mother Nature puts on a fireworks show of her own.
South Platte Park will host a “Star Party” during the height of the Perseid meteor shower on Aug. 12, inviting guests to hang out by a campfire in a lakeside meadow, eat some s’mores, and watch shooting stars.
The Perseid meteor shower comes at a great time, said Victoria Sutton, the South Platte Park interpreter who hosts star parties.
“There are other meteor showers that are flashier, but this one is at the tail end of summer,” she said. “It’s a chance to be together and be part of something before school and everything starts again.”
The meteor shower takes place when Earth passes through the orbit of Comet Swift-Tuttle, Sutton said, and bits of comet debris burn up in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Many are smaller than a pencil eraser, and travel at around 40 miles per second. Most burn up about 60 miles overhead.
“Meteor showers are a facet of nature that can be very inspiring,” Sutton said. “Every meteor is unique. You’ll never see it again. It gives you that sense of wonder — what’s really out there? It keeps you interested in the world around us.”
The party will be held beside Cooley Lake on the park’s western edge, which is normally off-limits to visitors. The trees along the river block light from Santa Fe Drive, making for prime stargazing.
The event begins at the Carson Nature Center, where interpreters will give a brief overview of the event before leading visitors to Cooley Lake. A storyteller will be on hand to share myths and legends about the night sky, including the meteor shower’s namesake constellation Perseus.
Drinks and s’mores will be provided, as will campfires. Sutton said star party visitors come seeking different experiences.
“We have people who just want to come and lay down in the grass in a semi-wild space and just enjoy the night sky,” she said. “Others come with big groups and don’t even look up — they’re just happy to be with friends and family by the fire.”
The star party will meet at Carson Nature Center at 3000 W. Carson Drive, just west of the Aspen Grove shopping center near Santa Fe Drive and Mineral Avenue, starting at 8 p.m. on Aug. 12. The cost is $9 for residents of South Suburban Recreation District and $11 for non-members.
To register, go to WesternWelcomeWeek.org/events and click on “Perseids Meteor Shower Star Party.”
Of course, if you can’t make it to the party, this is one fireworks show that will be visible from anywhere with a good view of the night sky. Look to the north after dark, Sutton said, with the real show picking up after 10 p.m.
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