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How to view the Perseid Meteor Shower this weekend

by James Kim | Off-Ramp

A 23-minute exposure of a meteor shower in Joshua Tree. Retro Traveler/Flicker

Break out the lawn chairs and your best sweater this weekend, because the annual Perseid meteor shower will be gracing the night sky.

This year's event will be more visible than last year because "the moon conditions are much better," says Griffith Observatory's Anthony Cook. He is the Astronomical Observer at the observatory and says, "This year the moon rises at 1:35 AM, but it's only about 30% illuminated. It's a crescent moon." Last year's shower peaked when the moon was full, so you couldn't see the showers very well.

While the shower gets started around 11pm, you don't have to stay up to catch the event. Have an early breakfast and watch the Perseids when they reach their peak at 4 or 5am. Spectators can expect to see about one or two meteors per minute.

But you really need a clear view of the Northeastern sky. "If you drive up the mountain north of LA," says Cook, "it will put the glare of the city to the south." One of the most popular destinations is the Angeles Crest Highway slightly north of the Mount Wilson Observatory. For those who don't mind to drive a little outside of Los Angeles County, Joshua Tree and the Los Padres National Forest will also provide amazing views.

The Perseid meteor shower is "kind of a summer time favorite because it happens during the vacation season," says Cook. So be prepared to find a spot in advance because it may get crowded.

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