Perseid meteor shower set to peak Saturday |

Perseid meteor shower set to peak Saturday

Amy Roby

Set the alarm: one of the best nighttime sky shows of the year happens late Saturday night into the wee hours of Sunday morning.

The Perseid meteor shower happens when the Earth passes through Comet Swift-Tuttle’s trail. Debris particles from the comet vaporize as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere, resulting in bright streaks across the sky. Astronomers predict this year’s meteor rates to be about 150 per hour, though visibility will be impeded by the bright light of the waning moon.

To counter the moonlight’s effect, try looking skyward before the moon rises at 11 p.m. If you don’t mind an interruption of sleep, step outside during the early morning hours any time before dawn. Keep things as dark as possible as you move outside to make the transition easier on your eyes. Sitting in a shadowy place near a building or a row of trees can help block out even more of the moon’s light.

On this night, I always prep a thermos of hot chocolate and set out some blankets before heading to bed. I get up around 3 a.m. and rouse my sons to join me for the awesome celestial event; it’s one of my most favorite nights of the year.

Happy stargazing!

Water usage up in the summer

It takes a lot to keep our lawn hydrated during the hot summer months. The monthly meter report shows how much water we’re using and how that amount is affected seasonally; the difference between summer and winter is significant.

I was so surprised by a recent usage increase I thought we might have a leak somewhere, and I called the Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District (GID) to ask what might be done.

A GID employee paid us a visit the next morning. In addition to showing us the meter and determining we didn’t have a leak, he offered some helpful ideas as to how we might further conserve the water we’re using.

Suggestions included installing lower-flow sprinkler heads, aerating the lawn to break up the soil and increase absorption, keeping the grass 3-4 inches high to help shade the soil, and customizing watering times to accommodate shady vs. sunny areas.

Thanks to the Ranchos GID for their timely response.

Amy Roby can be reached at