The annual Perseid meteor shower will hits its peak this weekend, and if it’s not too foggy, the Bay Area could see a big cosmic spectacle.
Stargazers are in for an optimal viewing experience as this year's Perseid meteor shower, renowned as one of the most spectacular meteor showers that happen every year during late summer, according to KPIX. This weekend’s waning crescent moon provides an optimal backdrop for the cosmic show. Unlike last year's peak, which coincided with a full moon that dimmed the meteor's brilliance, this year's event promises unhindered views.
The meteor shower's peak performance will take place from Saturday night through Sunday morning. As the clock strikes 11 p.m. on Saturday in local time, the meteor shower will begin in full, and as the night progresses into the early hours of Sunday, the tempo will pick up, with a flurry of meteoric activity.
The meteors will be all over the sky, so you won't have to just look in one direction. They'll also bright you won’t even need a telescope — you’ll be able to see it with your unaided eyes.
As NASA reports, these meteor showers are the result of Earth's passage through debris fields left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle, which sheds a delicate trail of dust as it orbits the sun. The moniker "Perseids" owes its origin to the constellation Perseus, as these shooting stars appear to originate from this point in the sky.
NASA meteor scientist Bill Cooke offers an enticing preview: "People in the U.S. can reasonably expect to see around 40 Perseids in the hour just before dawn on the peak nights. That’s about one every couple of minutes, which is not bad.”
So where should you go watch the Perseid meteors in the Bay Area? KPIX reports that the best viewing experience will be outside of urban areas, to avoid light pollution, and high elevation, to avoid the marine layer.
In the South Bay, there's Mount Hamilton in the South Bay, and most higher elevations in the North Bay, like the classic Mount Tam.
Image via Unsplash/Michał Mancewicz.