Adventure | Area Guide
Sea Islands Stargazing: Where to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower this Month
The Charleston Sea Islands are known for providing endless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, and the summer months are no exception. From boating down its winding waterways on a sunny Saturday to birdwatching in the salt marshes and dune fields, the barrier islands are perfectly positioned to play host to an array of outdoor activities.
And the region’s natural splendors don’t end when the sun goes down. Featuring miles of lush shoreline and maritime forests, Johns Island’s vast and open landscape makes it the ideal location for summertime stargazing. There’s no better time to enjoy the stars than during the annual Perseid meteor shower.
Associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle, the Perseid meteor shower is among the most well-known and reliable cosmic performances in the Northern Hemisphere. The shower occurs each year beginning mid-July through late August and this year’s meteor shower has just begun the slow and steady rise to its peak on August 11 through 13.
The peak of this year’s shower takes place during a full moon, meaning the meteors may be a bit more difficult to see against the moon’s bright light. Fortunately, there are a few tricks to better your chances of seeing the meteor shower.
Ditch downtown. A dark and open sky is essential for a successful stargazing experience. Just a short drive from the city lights of downtown Charleston, Johns Island provides a perfect backdrop for watching the night skies. Enjoy the celestial show while surrounded by the Lowcountry’s natural, unlit beauty.
Arrive (very) early. The best time to watch meteor showers is between midnight and dawn, and the Perseids are no exception. The visible rate is greatest in the pre-dawn hours when the sky is moon-free. Keep track of the moonsets in your region for the optimal viewing times.
Know where to look. All meteors come from a single point in the sky, so for best viewing results, trace the paths of the Perseid meteors backwards to find the origin point – the constellation Perseus. Not only will you identify a new constellation, but you’ll know exactly where to look for the meteors when they come jetting across the sky.
Be patient. There’s no telling how many meteors you might see at a given hour. During meteor showers, the meteors will happen in spurts with several lulls in between. To maximize your stargazing experience, we recommend viewing several mornings in a row from August 9 to August 13.
Pack for comfort. No stargazing adventure is complete without a cozy blanket or a few chairs to help you relax. Remember, you may be there a while! Don’t forget to pack snacks, a flashlight and bug repellant.
With these tips, you’re sure to enjoy all that the night sky has to offer in the Lowcountry. Happy gazing!