Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend: How to enjoy the show

Sky watchers gather for the Perseid meteor shower in August 2010.
Sky watchers gather for the Perseid meteor shower in August 2010.
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

The Perseid meteor shower is one of nature’s most spectacular light shows, and it’s happening this weekend.

The annual meteor shower will peak Sunday night into the dawn of Monday morning, and at the height of the shower, you can expect to see 100 meteors an hour.

This year, the moon is your friend and will appear as a thin crescent that shouldn’t spoil your view of the shooting stars.


And just to make you extra excited, NASA recently declared the Perseids the fireball champion of the meteor showers -- meaning it has the brightest meteors of all the annual showers.

PHOTOS: Perseid Meteor Shower

The best way to see the Perseids is to find a dark patch of sky, lie down and look up.

That’s actually not simple for those of us who live in heavily light polluted cities like Los Angeles.

Although some of the brightest meteors will still be visible even here in Los Angeles, you’ll have to drive about an hour out of town to get the full effect of this dynamic meteor shower.

Around Southern California, some of the best places to catch the Perseid show include Joshua Tree, Angeles National Forest, Los Padres National Forest (past Magic Mountain) and the Anza-Borrego desert, said Anthony Cook, who heads the telescope program at Griffith Observatory.

The meteor shower will emanate from the northeastern sky, so make sure you have a clear view of that piece of sky with nothing obstructing it.


Cook also suggests bringing a chaise longue and blanket with you.

PHOTOS: Amazing images from space

“You want to get real comfortable,” he said. “You don’t want to be craning your neck.”

And if you just can’t figure out how to get to dark sky this weekend, I’ve got good news and bad news for you: The viewing conditions for the Perseids in 2014 are going to be bad. The sky will be lit up by an almost full moon, drowning out many meteors with its light.

But in 2015, there will be just the tiniest sliver of a moon, creating viewing conditions that Cook called “ideal.”