dark skies

Perseids Meteor Shower Camp Out

Every year, Friends of Black Rock High Rock hosts a spectacular Dark Skies weekend closest to the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower. We invite you to come out and enjoy the nighttime skies with us.

2019 Information

You don’t need to be a member to attend…but why not become a member today to support conservation work in the area. You’ll also enjoy a special member’s paella dinner!  Join today.

Did you know that red headlamps are preferred when stargazing? Your eyes adjust much faster to the dark with red vs. white light. So BRING A RED LAMP. The one you own may have this feature.  

Directions:

Meteor Camp 2019 takes place along the west track dunes in order to block the lights from Black Rock City’s construction. Note the new location!

Driving:
Get on the playa at the second 12 mile entrance (West entrance) take the first track to the left. Drive 6-miles out on this track and look for the camp on the left, along the shore line.

Coordinates:
N 40 degrees 51 minutes 06.3 seconds
W 119 degrees  12 minutes, 15.8 seconds
The west shore track is in very good condition.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 9 
  • 1 pm – Friends leads a caravan from the Visitor’s Center to the campsite and sets up camp
  • 7pm – Potluck Dinner

SATURDAY, AUGUST 10 
  • 7am – 8am: Coffee with Friends.  Friends will provide coffee. Feel free to offer up yummies to go with it. No pressure!
  • 8:30am – 11:30am: Deep Playa Clean-Up. Gloves, grabbers, and trash bags provided. We’ll go out towards the Quinn River and the wilderness area boundary. This is an interesting part of the playa, with a fault line running through it. If you have not been out here, come see this area with us and lend a hand at the same time.
  • 1pm – 4pm: Hot Springs Tour: Black Rock & Double Hot
  • 7pm: Paella Dinner for FBRHR Members!  Graciously provided by board member Jerry Snyder.  Spanish wines and special limited edition commemorative 20th Anniversary FBRHR wine tumblers for FBRHR membership renewals.
  • 8pm – 9pm: Educational Presentation with Astronomers from Fleischmann Planetarium and Will Roger’s in(famous) margaritas!
  • Stargazing all night


SUNDAY, AUGUST 11 

  • Coffee With Friends – Friends will provide coffee. Feel free to offer up yummies to go with it. No pressure!

Perseid Meteor Showers in the Black Rock Desert:

The Black Rock Desert hosts some of the darkest skies in Nevada and is the perfect backdrop for experiencing “shooting stars”.  In years with little to no moon, NASA reports that over 100 stars can be seen cascading across the skies per hour.

Some people may not be familiar with meteor showers and possibly have not ever experienced them. Here is a bit of information about meteor showers and what you can expect to see.

What is a meteor shower?

A meteor shower is a spike in the number of meteors or “shooting stars” that streak through the night sky.

Most meteor showers are spawned by comets. As a comet orbits the Sun it sheds an icy, dusty debris stream along its orbit. If Earth travels through this stream, we will see a meteor shower. Although the meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, if you trace their paths, the meteors in each shower appear to “rain” into the sky from the same region.

Meteor showers are named for the constellation that coincides with this region in the sky, a spot known as the radiant. For instance, the radiant for the Leonid meteor shower is in the constellation Leo. The Perseid meteor shower is named because meteors appear to fall from a point in the constellation Perseus.

What are shooting stars?

“Shooting stars” and “falling stars” are both names that describe meteors — streaks of light across the night sky caused by small bits of interplanetary rock and debris called meteoroids vaporizing high in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Traveling at tens of thousands of miles an hour, meteoroids quickly ignite from the searing friction with the atmosphere, 30 to 80 miles above the ground. Almost all are destroyed in this process; the rare few that survive and hit the ground are known as meteorites.

When a meteor appears, it seems to “shoot” quickly across the sky, and its small size and intense brightness might make you think it is a star. If you’re lucky enough to spot a meteorite (a meteor that makes it all the way to the ground), and see where it hits, it’s easy to think you just saw a star “fall.”

How can I best view a meteor shower?

Get away from the glow of city lights and toward the constellation from which the meteors will appear to radiate. The Black Rock Desert, in northwestern Nevada is the perfect canvas. Perseid meteors will appear to “rain” into the atmosphere from the constellation Perseus, which rises in the northeast around 11 p.m. in mid-August.

Once you have settled at your observing spot, lie back or position yourself so the horizon appears at the edge of your peripheral vision, with the stars and sky filling your field of view. Meteors will instantly grab your attention as they streak by.

How do I know the sky is dark enough to see meteors?

If you can see each star of the Little Dipper, your eyes have “dark adapted,” and your chosen site is probably dark enough. Under these conditions, you will see plenty of meteors. Trust us, the Desert landscape is perfect. Hycroft Mine dims their lights and has special shades to allow a full dark sky to be the canvas and our camping site is far east from the Burning Man site where the Black Rock City is being constructed to not be a hindrance to viewing.

What should I pack for meteor watching with Friends of Black Rock?

Pack comfortable chairs, food and drinks, blankets, and all your camping gear. Be prepared for cool nights. If you have maps and charts you want to follow, please pack a red-filtered flashlight so you won’t ruining your night vision or the experience of others. Binoculars are not necessary. Your eyes will do just fine.

This is a family event and music will be turned off at midnight to allow people to take in the magnificent view and become far more aware that we are just a small point of energy in this massive universe in which we live.

Perseids Campout

Event Chair: Conservation Project & Outreach Coordinator