Newsletter: Where to see the Perseid meteor shower across California

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is one good spot to take in a meteor shower.
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Aug. 12, and here’s a look at the week ahead:

Get the Essential California newsletter »

The annual Perseid meteor shower, which occurs as Earth passes through the trail of the Swift-Tuttle comet, will peak just after midnight Monday and into Tuesday morning. The trick to a good viewing will be finding somewhere sufficiently dark, with clear skies free from bright city lights.

Here are some best spots for seeing the meteor show in the Bay Area, the Eastern Sierra, near Sacramento, in Bakersfield, near Palm Springs, Orange County, Los Angeles and San Diego. (Some of those links are specifically Perseid-based, while others just highlight the best dark-sky stargazing spots in the area. Bonus: Here are the 10 darkest spots for stargazing across the entire state.)


On Wednesday, the House Financial Services Committee will have a field hearing on homelessness in Los Angeles. Expected speakers include the directors of Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and numerous housing and community groups, and Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Thursday is the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. Here’s an interesting look back from the New York Times at how the paper scrambled to cover the 1969 festival, as the scope of its importance suddenly became clear. (Meanwhile, the beleaguered Woodstock 50 anniversary festival, which would have commemorated the seminal gathering, was officially canceled a few weeks ago, three months after its main backer pulled funding and declared it dead.)

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:


Police fear “suicide by cop” cases. So some police have stopped responding to suicide calls because of potential danger to officers and the person attempting to end their life. Los Angeles Times

L.A.’s Green New Deal has become a polarizing issue in Tuesday’s special election to fill a northwest San Fernando Valley City Council seat. The district in question was profoundly affected by one of Southern California’s biggest environmental disasters: the massive methane leak from an Aliso Canyon storage facility that pushed thousands of people out of their homes. Los Angeles Times



For Japanese Americans, AMC’s new show “The Terror: Infamy” is painfully personal. Reporter Jen Yamato visits the set and talks to actor and internment survivor George Takei, who stars in the show, while also interweaving her own family history. “I was a child when I first heard about the camps, via fragmented, painful memories seldom spoken aloud,” Yamato writes. “When they were shared, it was in a matter-of-fact tone that shielded us from the full brunt of the trauma.” Los Angeles Times

Heavily redacted texts show that Mayor Eric Garcetti requested for a specific home to be checked during the Woolsey fire. Los Angeles Times

An ode to the Thomas Guide, which led generations of Southern California drivers through the streets of Los Angeles. CityLab

Seth MacFarlane has quietly become one of Hollywood’s major political donors. The “Family Guy” creator has donated mostly to Democratic political action committees, while directly supporting a small number of candidates. Los Angeles Times


Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Subscribe to the Los Angeles Times.


A new report further outlines Silicon Valley tech firm Palantir’s deep ties to ICE. The report, which was released by an immigrant advocacy group, contradicts the data-mining company’s previous statements that its work with ICE is limited to criminal investigations. Mercury News

Guns from the United States kill tens of thousands of Mexicans a year. Law enforcement officials say that the southbound, illegal trafficking of U.S. weapons fuels nearly all of Mexico’s skyrocketing violence. San Diego Union-Tribune


The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution adopting “person-first” language for the criminal justice system to ease stigma as individuals reenter society. “Going forward, what was once called a convicted felon or an offender released from jail will be a ‘formerly incarcerated person,’ or a ‘justice-involved’ person or simply a ‘returning resident.’ ” San Francisco Chronicle


An audit of California’s “motor voter” system found nearly 84,000 duplicate voter records. Los Angeles Times

Gov. Gavin Newsom has endorsed Assembly member Todd Gloria in Gloria’s bid to become San Diego’s next mayor. Incumbent mayor Kevin Faulconer is ineligible to run in the 2020 race due to term limits. San Diego Union-Tribune

A Fresno City Council member’s tweet about guns drew a wave of backlash, and quite the ratio. (A quick glossary interlude for my non-Extremely Online readers: Getting “ratioed” on Twitter means that the number of replies to the tweet in question greatly outnumbers the number of likes and retweets. Any reply-to-retweet ratio over 2:1 is likely evidence of what the kids would call a “Bad Tweet.”) Fresno Bee


California’s first-in-the-nation law mandating women on boards of publicly held companies is facing what appears to be its first legal challenge. Mercury News



Sacramento County just permanently shut down a restaurant for the first time in 25 years, after two years of health violations. Sacramento Bee

A grasshopper plague of “biblical proportions” has hit ranchers in Northern California’s Butte County. A grasshopper species known as “the devastator” is eating all of the vegetation in the area that is meant to feed cattle. Eureka Times-Standard


“They want to erase us.” California Uighurs fear for family members in China. Los Angeles Times

The Oakland Coliseum chief resigned abruptly amid questions about a possible conflict of interest in the RingCentral naming rights deal. San Francisco Chronicle

Die-hard Garth Brooks fans are desperate for tickets to the country star’s upcoming show at a 550-seat venue in Bakersfield. Bakersfield Californian


Modesto has denied a permit request to hold a Straight Pride rally in a local park, but organizers say the event will go on. Modesto Bee

A falling bear struck a patrol car in Humboldt County, causing a fire and a crash. The sheriff’s deputy driving the car “managed to escape without serious injury.” The bear reportedly fled the scene, per the California Department of Transportation. Redding Record Searchlight

Different perspectives on a statewide housing crisis: Seniors in the San Gabriel Valley city of Alhambra face an acute shortage of affordable housing. Alhambra Source


Los Angeles: partly sunny, 82. San Diego: partly sunny, 75. San Francisco: sunny, 71. San Jose: sunny, 88. Sacramento: sunny, 98. More weather is here.



This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California: Magic Johnson (Aug. 14, 1959), author Danielle Steel (August 14, 1947), Rep. Maxine Waters (Aug. 15, 1938), the long-deceased poet Charles Bukowski (Aug. 16, 1920), Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison (Aug. 17, 1944), and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block (Aug. 17, 1948).

“It’s marvelous: you can see the whole of Los Angeles in the distance, and the sea, and there are big eucalyptus trees and horses and hens — it’s countryside and town at the same time.”

— Simone de Beauvoir in a letter to Jean-Paul Sartre, 1947

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.