How to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in California Tonight

Russell Nketiah Tannor
How to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in California Tonight

If you are looking for a spectacular show of shooting stars tonight, you are in luck. The Perseid meteor shower, one of the best and brightest of the year, will peak tonight and early tomorrow morning. Here is everything you need to know about how to watch this cosmic event in California.

What are the Perseids?

The Perseids are a meteor shower that occurs every year from mid-July to late August, when the Earth passes through the debris left behind by comet Swift-Tuttle. As the tiny particles of dust and ice enter the Earth's atmosphere at high speeds, they burn up and create streaks of light across the sky. The Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus, which is where they appear to originate from.

When and where to watch?

The Perseids will peak tonight, August 12, and early tomorrow morning, August 13. The best time to watch is between midnight and dawn, when the sky is darkest and the meteors are most frequent. You can expect to see up to 100 meteors per hour at the peak, with some bright fireballs and long trails.

To watch the Perseids, you need to find a dark spot away from city lights and light pollution. The map below shows the levels of light pollution in California, with darker areas indicating better viewing conditions. You can also use this website¹ to find a dark sky location near you.

Percent brighter than natural dark sky: 0 1,000+ Map: Wesley Ratko • Source: National Park Service

Once you find a good spot, lie down on a blanket or a lawn chair and look up at the sky. You don't need any special equipment or a telescope to see the meteors. Just let your eyes adjust to the dark for about 15 minutes and enjoy the show. You can also use an app like SkyView² or Star Walk³ to locate the constellation Perseus in the northeast sky, but you don't have to look in any particular direction to see the meteors.

What else to know?

The Perseids are not only beautiful, but also scientifically interesting. They provide valuable information about the origin and evolution of comets, as well as the structure and composition of the interplanetary dust. Scientists from NASA and other institutions use various instruments and methods to study the Perseids, such as radar, radio, optical, and infrared observations. You can learn more about their research here⁴.

The Perseids are also a great opportunity to share your passion for astronomy with your friends and family. You can make it a fun and educational experience by playing games, telling stories, or making wishes on the shooting stars. You can also join online communities and events to share your photos and videos of the meteor shower with other enthusiasts around the world. For example, you can check out this website⁵ for tips on how to photograph meteors, or this website for a live stream of the Perseids.

The Perseids are a wonderful gift from nature that you don't want to miss. So grab your jacket, your snacks, and your camera, and head out tonight to witness one of the most dazzling displays of the year. Happy stargazing!

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