Perseids in the Seattle area for the non-hiker, non-camper
August 11, 2016 8:18 AM   Subscribe

I'm doing an impromptu night trip from Seattle to see the Perseids. The internet advice for meteor watchers is aimed at campers and hikers. What can a non-outdoorsperson like myself do for best meteror viewing?

My timeline is pretty tight. I can leave downtown Seattle around 5PM tonight and need to be back in town by 6-7AM tomorrow. This rules out hiking anywhere because I'm not comfortable hiking at night, especially in the mountainous country that the Seattle meteor-watchers seem to like.

My first idea is to use a WSDOT rest stop east of the Cascades -- there will be some lights and a nearby freeway, but there will also be grass to lie on and per their rules, we can stay up to 8 hours so long as it doesn't look like we're camping. But I bet I can do better. All I need is a patch of grass in a dark place where we can set out a blanket.

I see there's a guided astronomy program at Paradise Camp on Mount Rainier, but this only runs until midnight and I understand that the meteors really get going after then.

Does anyone have any better suggestions? Next year I'll plan this farther in advance!
posted by Sauce Trough to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Rattlesnake Lake is kind of the default answer to questions of astronomical viewing. You can hike up the ridge, but you don't have to.
posted by kindall at 8:51 AM on August 11, 2016

Response by poster: The website for Rattlesnake Lake says they're only open from dawn to dusk. Are the authorities just cool with the stargazers or does anyone even enforce those hours? Please excuse the threadsitting.
posted by Sauce Trough at 9:13 AM on August 11, 2016

Best answer: There are astronomy clubs that go out there for stargazing all the time, and the site regularly appears on lists of best stargazing spots near Seattle. In fact, here's one that recommends it for veiwing the Perseids. Also, I work with a guy who goes there fairly regularly with a telescope. So I bet you won't have any problems with the authorities there. I'm pretty sure the posted hours at most parks are just to give the police a way to kick out people who are being an actual problem and to discourage unsafe behaviors, such as a tough hike in the dark.
posted by kindall at 9:51 AM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

No advice on where to go, except you want somewhere dark and free of trees. But pack warm! Sitting outside at night is cold, even in summer. Also for meteors the best thing is to lie on your back or sit in a low lounge chair and just stare up. But bring some binoculars too, for when you get bored of seeing meteors and want a closer look at the Milky Way or Andromeda or something.
posted by Nelson at 10:29 AM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Artist Point might be an option.
posted by bajema at 10:40 AM on August 11, 2016

Response by poster: We are now chilling at Rattlesnake Lake, waiting for the show to begin. Thanks everyone!
posted by Sauce Trough at 7:49 PM on August 11, 2016

For future searchers, driving up to the east side of Stevens Pass Highway 2) gives you a phenomenal view of meteor showers. Pull off at a viewpoint, pull out your lawn Shapiro and hot chocolate, and enjoy.
posted by SakuraK at 7:54 PM on August 11, 2016

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