More Fun and Funky Stellar Phenomena Above Portland
(Portland, Oregon) – There’s an answer to the nagging question about what is the bright star in the east these days – and there’s some more spectacular sights coming to Oregon skies in the coming days. (Above: Jupiter is the bright streak among these stars).
You know such things are becoming important to Portlanders when even a group of inebriated folk who have just closed down the bars on upper Hawthorne engage in a bit of sidewalk astronomy. Some of them, like many others in the Portland area, were wondering what that bright star in the east has been in recent weeks, showing especially bright as their favorite watering holes shut down at 2:30 a.m.
|Hawthorne Blvd after the bars have closed: Jupiter is the bright spot in the electrical wires at top.
It turns out it’s Jupiter.
One of these recent refugees from Bar of the Gods yanks out a high-powered telescope and proceeds to show all those who can still stand the solar system’s biggest planet. Indeed, you can see its bands going around it and several of its moons.
These days the massive planet is rising around midnight. By the end of the month it will be rising around 10 p.m.
It is only the opening act for the biggest show of the year: the Persied Meteor Showers. They will reach their most spectacular about the middle of the month, but a growing moon will likely start to interfere with that.
Still, at its height, it will yield some 60 meteors per hour.
It’s entirely possible they’ve already started, as numerous fairly bright shooting stars were already seen around the Portland area in the last couple days of July – although this could be the end of a shower called the Capricornids.
Oregon Travel Daily staff did a little experiment in the wee hours of August 2 and did some stellar photographs up in the rural hills between Portland and Hillsboro, off Cornelius Pass Road. Mostly, tiny satellites were caught cruising way above the Earth, but several shooting stars were seen firing off where the camera – of course – was not pointed.
However, two shots (here and below) seem to indicate some small meteor trails were photographed – although it is not 100 percent positive these did not come from a satellite.
For those in the Portland area wanting to check out this grand show in a guided way – not unlike the Whale Watch Weeks of the Oregon coast – OMSI will hold a special star party on August 12 at Rooster Rock State Park and at Stub Stewart State Park, starting at 9 p.m.
OMSI admits a full moon that night may interfere.
“While viewing the Perseids, we will look at the Moon, Saturn and later Jupiter,” OMSI said on its website. “As a bonus, the International Space Station will be visible on the same night.”
Rooster Rock State Park is near I-84, about 22 miles east of Portland. Stub Stewart State Park is about 23 miles west of Portland via Highway 26, and then Highway 47.
See about stellar viewing on the Oregon coast.
Below: Jupiter as seen from the Sylvan Exit, Highway 26