Joshua Tree National Park will open Ryan Campground from Friday, August 10 through Sunday, August 12, 2012 to allow visitors additional camping opportunities during the Perseid Meteor Showers. The annual Perseid meteor event is scheduled to reach a peak of activity on August 11.
The 31-site Ryan Campground is normally closed in summer due to low park visitation, however in recent years night-sky activities have become popular at Joshua Tree and frequently draw large evening crowds to the park. The temporary opening of Ryan Campground will allow the accommodation of more visitors who wish to stay the night. Ryan Campground's normal camping fee of $10 per night will apply during this temporary opening of the campground. Ryan Campground will close again on Monday morning, August 13; it will reopen again in the fall.
Park rangers will also present a special night sky program on August 11 to view the Perseid showers. This program will be held at the Oasis Visitor Center beginning at 8:30 pm. The Oasis Visitor Center is located at 74485 National Park Drive,Twentynine Palms, California. For more information contact the park at 760-367-5500, or visit the park's website at: http://www.nps.gov/jotr.
During the night meteors will appear to 'rain' in the sky from the direction of the constellation Perseus in the northeastern sky. Perseus rises into the night sky at about 11 pm. Meteors are icy debris and cosmic dust from the trail of comets that streak across the sky as Earth passes through the debris trail. Travelling tens of thousands of miles per hour, most meteors burn up from friction as they hit the Earth's atmosphere. Very rarely does a piece of cosmic debris strike the ground as a meteorite.