Two spectacular celestial events are coming to Oregon: An annual meteor shower and a total solar eclipse, 99 years in the making, which will pass directly over Pacific City.
By Jordan Wolfe
Perseid meteor shower
The night sky will become the backdrop for the year’s most dazzling meteor shower tomorrow and Friday night.
Weather permitting. This is the Oregon coast, after all.
“This will be one of the best, potential, viewing opportunities in a considerably long time period,” said Gordon McCraw, emergency manager for Tillamook County.
He said the annual event, called the Perseid meteor shower, occur when the Earth passes through a field of debris left behind by the comet, Swift-Tuttle. The showers typically peak during the second week of August.
“They’ll be shooting all over,” he added, “Viewing will be easy.” During optimal conditions, McCraw said viewers could potentially see as many as 200 meteors per hour.
“Assuming marine clouds don’t push in early.”
McCraw’s forecast predicts a ridge of high pressure that will provide sunny days and clear nights for optimal viewing.
For interested stargazers, McCraw said the best viewing will be around 10 p.m. on Thursday.
“But, I recommend going out a little before to adjust your eyes,” he said. “And if you go to the beach to watch it, stay away from the cliffs.”
Total solar eclipse
The last time a total solar eclipse moved from coast to coast was 99 years ago, according to McCraw.
At 10:15 a.m. on August 21, 2017, it will happen again.
“It’s going to be one of the best eclipses the U.S. has seen,” McCraw said. Ultimately, the eclipse will enter in Oregon and exit from North Carolina.
The center of the eclipse will be Lincoln City, with outlying edges at Newport to the south and Cape Lookout to the north, McCraw said, adding the best viewing is going to be at the beach.
“You should literally be able to see the shadow move across the water,” McCraw said of the view of the eclipse, particularly at higher elevations.
For him, as emergency manager, the concern lies with how popular the event will become.
“There’s an estimated five million people moving in to see the solar eclipse. It’s expected to be a very big deal.”
The total solar eclipse will last for almost two minutes, in the center, while the outer edges, including Pacific City, will last for about a minute, according to McCraw.
“It’s the greatest spectacle in the sky and should be seen at least once in your lifetime.”