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Hard Labor Creek State Park offering kayak tours to view meteor shower

As August brings with it the stress of the beginning of the school year, take some time to decompress and look up at the night sky. It’s also time for the annual Perseid Meteor Shower.

Between light pollution and trees blocking the view, seeing the meteor shower, which peaks on Aug. 12, can be a challenge. Hard Labor Creek State Park is offering a unique location from which to view it — the middle of Lake Rutledge.

The park is holding its first annual Paddle Under the Perseids program in which visitors travel in two-person kayaks out to the center of the lake for a good vantage point of the heavens.

“One of the cool things about Hard Labor is that at night, you have such a nice view of the sky. There’s no Atlanta light pollution,” said Georgia State Parks Resource Manager Phil Delestrez, who will lead the trips.

Paddle Under the Perseids Meteor Kayak Tours take place Saturday, Aug. 10 from 10 p.m. to midnight; Sunday, Aug. 11 from 10 to 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.; and Monday, Aug. 12 from 10 to 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. The Saturday tour is full but all others are open.

“I wanted to get some in there close to the peak nights. I realize it’s during the work week, but it’s only a once-a-year occurrence,” said Deletrez, who added that the peak time for viewing is midnight.

The cost for the tour is $20 person ($5 for parking) or $10 if a person supplies his own kayak. Each park kayak holds two adults and one young child. The limit on the number of kayaks per trip is nine.

The Perseid Meteor Shower is created each year when Earth passes close to comet debris. The debris falls into the earth’s atmosphere and burns up, causing a streak of light in the sky.

Delestrez said visitors should be able to see one about every 10 minutes.

“They create a really spectacular image as they’re falling. They’re bright. It’s what everyone calls a shooting star,” he said.

If the night is particularly clear, Delestrez will also point out summer constellations, Saturn, the big dipper, the north star and the Milky Way.

To register, call Hard Labor Creek State Park at 706-557-3001. For more information, visit www.gastateparks.org.