Dr. TK Lawless Park to remain open all night for meteor shower viewing
Published 2:00 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2023
VANDALIA — On a hot August night in 2021, Dr. TK Lawless Park in Vandalia was filled with “oohs,” “ahhs” and applause as stripes of color dashed through the night sky.
“It was like they wanted an encore,” said Robert Parrish, the man responsible for leading the charge to establish the International Dark Sky Park in Vandalia.
That encore may come this Saturday, as the Perseid Meteor Shower peaks. The Dark Sky Park will remain open all night long, giving stargazers the opportunity to view the spectacle in a space that is internationally designated to provide optimal viewing of the night sky.
Available to view about once a year, the Perseids are particles left over from the Comet Swift-Tuttle. When sky conditions are just right, viewers may see colorful streaks of light, which Parrish likens to a giant sparkler moving from side to side in the sky.
“From about 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. will be about the best time [to view the meteor shower],” Parrish said. “The Perseids has already started. You’ll see some on any night until the 12th. The 12th is the peak and after that it drops off dramatically, but the best chance to see them will be on the 12th.”
Cass County Parks Director Scott Wyman said the parks crew is “cautiously optimistic” about the upcoming show.
“Whenever you program outside events, you’re always taking a chance that Mother Nature won’t cooperate,” he said. “Unfortunately, as of late, the smoke from the wildfires is thrown into the mix.”
Nonetheless, Parrish encourages anyone interested to get out and see the show.
“One good thing this year is that the moon will have no influence on the dark sky,” he said. “That’ll mean the sky will be darker and they’ll be able to see more meteors.”
Parrish and Wyman said those attending should bring a blanket or chair to sit on to avoid damp clothing once dew sets in.
“You don’t need any special equipment,” Parrish said. “A telescope will only provide a very narrow view of the night sky. You don’t want that.”
Dr. TK Lawless Park is located at 15122 Monkey Run St. in Vandalia. Admission is $5 per person. Those wishing to stay past 2 a.m. can call (269) 445-4456 for more info.
“If it turns out nice and turns out clear, we’re going to have a spectacular night!” Wyman said.