Fall Break is this coming week, Oct. 18 and 19, for a lot of public schools. This is a great time to come camping one last time this year. The Fire Ban has been lifted. The nights are cooler, the days are usually still warm, and the long range forecasts are for generally dry days. That is a perfect camping weather forecast.
Now fall can be a windy time of year. Please be vigilant about watching your campfire. An ember blown from an unwatched campfire could start a grass fire. It wouldn’t hurt to have a 5 gallon bucket of water near the campfire. Of course, never leave even a smoldering campfire without adult supervision. When it’s time to leave the campsite make sure all coals are completely drowned.
Early next week (Sunday, Oct. 21) the Orionid meteor shower will be at its peak. As many as two dozen meteors may be seen each hour. The Orionids are named after the constellation Orion, because they seem to originate above his left shoulder. The best viewing is after midnight. With the new moon just past and a full moon another week away, the meteor viewing should be awesome-if it’s not cloudy.
The Orionid meteors are actually dust particles from Halley’s Comet. Because most comets fall a particular orbit, they leave distinct debris fields behind them. Halley’s Comet is quite far away from earth on its cigar shaped path and in fact won’t return until 2061. The earth passes through the debris field twice a year and thus has the Orionid meteor showers in October and the Aquarid meteor showers in May.
A few small steps of preparation will ensure you see the most number of meteors. Choose the darkest location you can find. Streetlights will wash out the fainter meteors. Get comfy: get a lounge chair and bundle up. Allow at least 10 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkened sky. Scan the whole sky, not just in the area around the constellation Orion. Sit back and enjoy the show.
Now that we’re out of a Fire Ban and camp fires are permitted, the camping experience is even more memorable. The aroma of wood smoke, the ooey-gooey yumminess of s’mores, the crunch of fallen leaves all these sensory experiences will last a lifetime. Toss in a potentially awesome meteor shower and you have the makings of a memorable family outing. Why not make some memories this weekend? Come campout at Quartz Mountain Nature Park.