RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The Big Field at Dorothea Dix park was empty Tuesday afternoon. But on Friday night, more than 2,000 people will fill it, all looking up at the night sky.

The Perseid Meteor shower will be at its peak Friday night. The Morehead Planetarium, as well as the Raleigh Astronomy Club and Chapel Hill Astronomical and Observing Society, decided this was the perfect opportunity to teach the community about the wonders of space.

“What meteors are, are bits of cosmic debris that has been left over by a comet,” explains Dr. Amy Sayle, Science Education Specialist at the Morehead Planetarium. “As Earth makes the annual trip around the sun, we slam into this debris about the same time every year so that’s how we know when it’s going to happen.”

Dr. Sayle says the Perseid meteor shower is typically one of the best of the summer, and the great thing about meteor showers is anyone can view them.

“You don’t need any special equipment to view a meteor shower. Telescopes, binoculars, that does not help you because you actually want as wide a view of the sky you can get,” she says. 

Which makes Dix Park the perfect venue. But whether you’re watching the celestial show from Dix Park or your own backyard, make sure it’s dark.

In addition to packing comfy chairs, pack your patience. It can take up to 30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark, and meteors will come in bursts throughout the night.

Whether you see one meteor or 100, you’re bound to feel like part of something big.

“Connect with the universe, connect with your friends and family and your community,” Sayle says. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”

The event at Dix Park is free, plus the Planetarium will have telescopes set up to look at planets and other objects in the night sky. Also the Triangle Sax Ensemble will be playing music to set the mood.

To reserve your spot, click here