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Where to get the best view of the Perseid meteor shower in the San Francisco Bay Area

Requirements for viewing Perseid meteors: open eyes, look up, stay awake

Requirements for viewing Perseid meteors: open eyes, look up, stay awake


One of the most highly anticipated annual meteor showers will be especially visible this weekend if you know where in the Bay Area you can see the Perseids as they peak.

The meteor shower began on July 14 and will last until September 1, according to the American Meteorological Society. The greatest number of visible meteors is expected in the early morning hours of Saturday, August 12. This year, the sighting will not be hindered by a full moon like last year.

The Perseids are considered by NASA to be the “best meteor shower of the year”, with about 50 to 100 meteors per hour under ideal conditions. The Perseids are also known for creating fireballs, which are larger explosions of light and color that can last longer than an average meteor flash, NASA says.

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Perseid meteor shower 2021
The annual Perseid meteor shower peaks on August 12 and 13, with the highest visibility in the Northern Hemisphere. A meteor streaks through the sky during the Perseid event on August 11, 2021 in Spruce Knob, West Virginia.

Bill Ingalls/NASA

The Perseids are particles released from a comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered in 1862 by Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle. The comet orbits the sun once every 133 years and last passed through the inner solar system in 1992. According to NASA, the peak of the meteor shower occurs when Earth passes through the dustiest debris of Swift-Tuttle’s paths.

The meteor shower’s radiant — the region of the sky from which the meteors appear to come — is near the constellation Perseus, the American Meteorological Society said, giving it the name Perseids. While many meteors appear to come from the northeastern sky where that constellation is located, meteors can appear in any part of the sky.

A deep marine layer is likely to bring fog along the coast Friday night and Saturday morning unless there are available locations at an elevation above the fog. The best locations in the Bay Area for viewing are inland. Mount Diablo and Fremont Peak in the East Bay, Mount Hamilton in the South Bay, and most of the higher elevations in the North Bay are all good options for viewing the Perseids.

While the Chabot Space and Science Center has a viewing event scheduled to begin late Friday night, it’s sold out. As with most celestial events, viewers are advised to seek a location with a clear sky, as far away from city lights as possible. Lying on a blanket in a hilltop grassy area is one suggestion. Meteors are best seen with the naked eye, so using binoculars or telescopes is not recommended.

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