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Meteors to light up the sky

Leonid meteor shower peaks this week

BARSTOW • Barstow residents who can brave the cold this week should find a dark spot Wednesday night and look up.

The Leonid meteor shower reaches its peak late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning, offering stargazers a chance to see more than 15 meteors an hour. With a half-full moon setting after midnight, the best time to view the shower is just before dawn, according to NASA scientists.

The Leonid meteors originated from the comet Tempel-Tuttle and in the past has attained the status of meteor storm, capable of producing hundreds of meteors an hour. Even though the shower peaks this week, it remains active until Nov. 28, according to NASA.

For those who live in Barstow, the best place to escape the light pollution locally is to drive out to Harper Dry Lake or Rainbow Basin, said Brad Mastin, a ranger with the Bureau of Land Management.

“(Rainbow Basin) is really pretty,” he said. “It’s so dark, you get away from all the lights. Bring a warm blanket, a lawn chair and maybe some green tea or hot cocoa.”

Another good place to go to watch the stars locally is Calico Ghost Town. The cabins are more convenient for star gazing during the cold weather, Mastin said.

The BLM is working to identify areas in the desert with the darkest night skies, Mastin said. Once that happens, the BLM would limit activities that create light pollution, he said.

“We’re starting to do visual resource management when we begin to identify the different scenic values,” he said. “One of those values is dark skies. So we would manage the land to keep any activities that would not cause light pollution.”

Harper Dry Lake is located off Highway 58 about 18 miles west of Barstow. Rainbow Basin is located on Fossil Bed Road off of Irwin Road about eight miles north of Barstow.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4123 or jcejnar@desertdispatch.com


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