Now through August, the night sky puts on the annual star-studded show, the Perseid Meteor Showers. The best viewing time is right before the new moon during the peak, Aug. 11 and 12. In addition to a natural celestial event, there are several events happening in August to celebrate the Methow Valley’s beautiful dark skies.
On Tuesday, Aug. 1, the Methow Conservancy will host a First Tuesday program with astrophysicist Dr. Shane Larson at the Twisp River Tap House. Larson is the Associate Director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics at Northwestern University. Larson will present his program, “The Tapestry of Night: Protecting the Dark Side of the Sky” at 7 p.m. The event is free. The Tap House is usually closed on Tuesdays, but are graciously opening their doors at 6:15 p.m. to host this special event and offer dinner and drinks. Come support a local business, and celebrate a love affair with dark skies.
On Thursday, Aug. 3, the Methow Valley Dark Sky Coalition invites everyone to the Methow Valley Ciderhouse in Winthrop at 5 p.m. for the “Milky Way Social Club Beer and Blab” social. The group promises, “no talks, no solicitations. Just camaraderie,” with fellow dark sky enthusiasts while supporting a local business that serves fine local fare.
On Friday, Aug. 4, the Methow Conservancy hosts a telescope viewing party, “Star Party: Experience the Dark Sky” with Larson, and local astronomers. The popular free event does require attendees to sign up due to the limited number of telescopes. The Star Party starts at 9 p.m. at the Twisp Soccer Fields. Come chat with experts and look through high-powered lenses at the beautiful night sky above the Methow Valley. Visit the events page at MethowConservancy.org to RSVP to this free event.
Aug. 8-12 is the annual Table Mountain Star Party at Eden Valley Guest Ranch in Oroville. This family-friendly event is open to everyone. Join night-sky enthusiasts for talks, workshops, kids’ activities, and much more, including the all-important “loafing around.” Astronomers will be available to share their knowledge and views from their telescopes. More information about the event can be found at tmspa.com.
Sun Mountain Lodge announced a “stargazing adventure” on their Facebook page. The event is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 14 at 9:30 p.m.
Circling back to the beginning topic, don’t miss out on the Perseid Meteor Showers on the darkest of the nights in August. The first day and last day of the month will have full moons, with the darkest days in the middle of the month. The nights are still warm and relatively bug free to enjoy a night out under the stars. The Methow Valley has several wonderful places, either near or far from towns, to enjoy the night sky.
Close to town, Lewis Butte and Pearrygin Lake State Park are excellent places to recline while watching the meteor showers.
Further away from town, Sweet Grass Butte is a real sweet spot to take in the views from a large meadow at the summit. For the more adventurous soul, Harts Pass and Slate Peak are highly recommended locations for a celestial show.
For event details, maps, and dark sky viewing tips, visit MethowDarkSky.org.