A Special Time to Stargaze: 2016 Perseids Meteor Shower

Updated: Jul 17, 2020 Short URL: gonj.me/perseid2016

Special thanks to Matthew Heiss, President of the United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey, for putting this article together for us!

In 1992, the Swift Tuttle comet passed through our solar system. Every July/August, our planet crosses the orbital path of this comet, speeding through debris left over from that visit in '92. This year is setting up to be one of the best years for seeing the Perseids Meteor Shower. With a projected rate of 50 - 150 per hour, this should be a great show to watch.

The shower can be seen as early as July 17th until August 24th, with the peak night being around the 12th of August. You will see the most during the peak, but can still catch some before and after too.

If you are looking to get the most out of the shower, we advise you to get to a dark sky location. You want to be far away from light pollution, with a large open area to see the sky. The northwestern corner of New Jersey, the Pine Barrens, or even at the Jersey Shore are great places to see it. You want to look northeast after 10pm. That's when the constellation Perseus will be coming up over the horizon. That will be the main area to look at.

There is another important factor to also consider. Although our moon is beautiful to look at, it acts like a giant light bulb in the sky and can actually cause you to see less of the shower due to it adding light pollution. I recommend looking at a moon rise chart to find the best time that the moon will be either not out, or as small as possible.

You will not need much to enjoy the show, but you should bring a blanket to lay on, and always some bug spray. You can see them best with the naked eye. Try to notice the many different colors, and the smoke trails that are left behind too.

If you are looking for a place to see the show, United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey is hosting a meteor shower viewing party on Saturday, August 6th. We will also be there Saturday, August 13th for a second night of viewing. You can find them at uacnj.org for directions. Good luck, and enjoy the show.

United Astronomy Club of New Jersey

County: Warren County
Location: Jenny Jump State Park
Address: 333 State Park Rd., Hope, NJ
Web: www.uacnj.org
Phone: 908-459-4909

Below we've compiled a list of observatories around New Jersey. We will update this list as we learn about more fun places for you to Get Outside! If you know of any to add, please let us know!

jump to county: Bergen County, Hunterdon County, Mercer County, Middlesex County, Morris County, Passaic County, Sussex County, Union County, Warren County

Bergen County

William D. McDowell Observatory

Address: 2 DeKorte Park Plaza, Lyndhurst, NJ
Web: www.rst2.edu/meadowlands/marshaccess/Observatory2.html
Phone: 201-460-4623

Hunterdon County

Paul H. Robinson Observatory Edwin E. Aldrin Astronomical Center

Address: Voorhees State Park, Lebanon Township, NJ
Web: njaa.org
Phone: 908-638-8500

Mercer County

John W. H. Simpson Observatory Washington Crossing State Park

Address: 355 Washington Crossing, Titusville, NJ
Web: princetonastronomy.org
Phone: 609-737-2575

Middlesex County

Robert A. Schommer Astronomical Observatory Serin Physics Laboratories, Busch Campus of Rutgers University

Address: 136 Frelinghuysen Road, Piscataway, NJ
Web: physics.rutgers.edu/ast/ast-serin.html
Phone: 848-445-8973

Morris County

Sheep Hill ObservatoryA great place!

Address: Ross Drive, Boonton, New Jersey
Web: sheephillastro.org
Phone: (973) 335-5990

Passaic County

John Crowley Nature Center and Astronomical Observatory

Address: Rifle Camp Park, Woodland Park, NJ
Web: www.passaiccountynj.org/facilities/facility/details/Nature-Center--Observatory-30
Phone: 973-523-0024

Union County

William Miller Sperry Observatory Union County College

Address: 1033 Springfield Ave., Cranford, NJ
Web: asterism.org
Phone: 908-276-2730

Warren County

United Astronomy Club of New Jersey Jenny Jump State ParkOur Favorite!

The UACNJ Observatory is located at Latitude 40 54' 26.8" North, Longitude 74 55' 31.8" West, and 1100 feet above sea level in Jenny Jump State Forest, near Hope, New Jersey, in Warren County. The site is one of the few dark sky locations left in the state.

UACNJ provides free public programs at our Observatory from April through October on Saturday evenings. An astronomy presentation begins at 8 PM in the lecture hall regardless of the weather and is followed by stargazing on the observatory's telescopes until 10:30 PM, weather permitting.

Address: 333 State Park Rd., Hope, NJ
Web: www.uacnj.org
Phone: 908-459-4909

Sussex County

Ellis Astronomical Observatory The Sterling Hill Mining Museum

Address: 30 Plant Street, Ogdensburg, NJ 07439
Web: sterlinghillminingmuseum.org/whatshere/ellis.php
Phone: 973-209-7212

We will update this list as we learn about more fun places for you to Get Outside! If you know of any to add, please let us know!