Rest up if you plan to watch the Perseid meteor shower next week. Shooting stars streaking across the night sky will best be seen between midnight and dawn starting Friday and into the weekend, even though the light show won’t likely peak until Tuesday.
“This year’s shower ... has [the] unfortunate circumstance of having a full moon right at the shower peak, reducing the meteor rates from over 60 per hour down to 15 to 20 per hour,” NASA’s blog says.
Earthsky.org recommends watching over several nights this weekend to see as many meteors as possible. “There will be considerably more moon-free viewing time than at the Perseids’ likely peak” from late Monday until dawn Tuesday, the website says.
To find the time when skies will be darkest, pay attention to when the moon sets in L.A.: 1:12 a.m. Friday, 2:02 a.m. Saturday, 2:52 a.m. Sunday, 3:43 a.m. Monday and 4:34 a.m. Tuesday.
Whenever you decide to stargaze, expect to see a sky “rich in bright meteors and fireballs, so it will still be worth going out in the early morning to catch some of nature’s fireworks,” according to NASA.
Now that you know when to watch, what about where? The key is to find a dark place, far from city lights. In Los Angeles, that may mean heading north to Angeles National Forest and Big Bear Lake, east to the deserts of Death Valley or Joshua Tree, or west to the Santa Monica Mountains.
You won’t need binoculars or a telescope to see the light show; the meteors will be visible with the naked eye.
Also, avoid trying to take a photo or using your cellphone; the bright light from the screen will hamper your night vision and may cause you to miss seeing the shooting stars.
The meteors are dust from Comet Swift-Tuttle, and they appear to radiate from the constellation Perseus, hence the name. The annual event began July 17 and lasts through Aug. 24.