The forecast for Saturday and Sunday nights is for a meteor storm across the Soutern California sky.
With a waning crescent moon, conditions are favorable for viewing a lot of interstellar activity from the Perseids meteor shower between 11 p.m. and 4:30 a.m., over the weekend — provided one can get free of city lights.
(Do you know of a great location? Share it in the comments section below!)
"No matter how long I’ve been looking at a meteor shower, every time I see a bright meteor I gasp with excitement," said Michael Beckage, Seal Beach resident, local astronomer and owner of Diversified Technical Systems, Inc.
"It's startling, it's bright and it's just not something you're used to seeing," Beckage said.
The Perseids are a meteor shower visible when the Earth passes through the tail of the Swift-Tuttle comet. The meteor shower has been visible for about 2,000 years. The Swift-Tuttle comet orbits once every 133 years, according to NASA.
“The Perseids can be seen all over the sky, but the best viewing opportunities will be across the northern hemisphere,” according to a 2011 NASA release. “Those with sharp eyes will see that the meteors appear to radiate from the direction of the constellation Perseus.”
At its peak, the Perseids meteor shower could display up to 40 meteors per hour in the pre-dawn hours Sunday. The American Meteor Society recommends viewing this meteor shower between midnight and dawn Saturday and Sunday.
The shower should appear in the northeast sky, so those in Orange County should look to the northeast in the general direction of San Bernardino.
- Get as far away from city and other artificial lights as possible. Meteor showers are best viewed in really dark skies. Try to keep the moon out of your field of vision, too.
- Be patient. It may take your eyes a few minutes to adjust to the light and see the meteors.
- You don’t need binoculars or a telescope – that will only limit the amount of sky you can see.
If you happen to take photos of the meteors—or of your family and friends viewing the meteors—be sure to post them as well.