This weekend the Perseid meteor shower will be reaching its peak and can be observed by those who rise early or those willing to stay up all night.
The annual meteor shower is caused by the cloud of the comet Swift-Tuttle, which orbits the sun every 133 years. As the Earth passes through the cloud of debris, bits of ice and dirt—some as old as a 1000 years—burn up in earth's atmosphere, causing the celestial event commonly known as a meteor shower.
The Perseid meteor shower has been observed for close to 2000 years and peaks sometime during the summer months.
This year, the shower peaks on Saturday and unfortunately coincides with the full moon, which will make observing the shooting stars difficult. However, catching a glimpse of the light show will not be impossible and the best opportunity to do so will be during the predawn hours of Saturday morning.
According to NASA, the full moon will wash out all but the brightest of the meteors. Their rates that are estimated to be about 20-30 per hour at most with weather permitting.
To observe the shower, you will want to get to the viewing spot of your choosing by at least 4:30 a.m., when the full moon will be low enough to witness the celestial event. Try to move as far away as possible from any city lights.
According to the Dark Sky Finder website, the Crescenta Valley is located right along the edge of the higher light pollution area created by the dense population of the metro Los Angeles area.
That means that while light pollution may be a problem when it comes to viewing the meteor shower, the nearby San Gabriel Mountains and Angeles National Forest do mean Crescenta Valley residents have some of the best chances for good celestial viewing in the Los Angeles area. The best areas for viewing will be those with less streetlights and no high rise buildings or surrounding mountains to block viewing angles.
For those who wish to view the show live from the comfort of home, NASA will activate cameras and a chat module during the shower's peak that will allow participants to ask questions from experts as they view the Perseid's meteor shower live. The cameras are set to go online at 11 p.m. Eastern Time on Friday. Click here for information about the NASA event.