Where to See the Perseid Meteor Shower in San Diego County

Perseid Meteor Shower 2010 at Palomar Observatory

The annual Perseid meteor shower has begun and you might be able to catch a glimpse. The sky show lasts until Aug. 23, but peak viewing times are Saturday and Sunday after midnight.

The meteor shower is actually part of a comet called Swift-Tuttle and has been observed for about 2,000 years, says says Richard Bent, who spent more than 20 years working on satellites and rockets for the aerospace industry.

“Also, the best place to view meteor showers is anywhere away from lights and cloud cover. Usually, the best places to see the meteor shower and stars, and planets in general is the desert or mountain areas that are away from lights.”

Bent said star gazers will most likely head out to Joshua Tree National Park, Anza-Borrego State Park or—in San Diego County—places near Ramona like Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and Palomar Mountain, home of the famed observatory.

With clear light free skys, not only meteor showers, but satellites and the Milky Way Galaxy are clearly seen, he added.

Here are some other tidbits about the event according to ABC.com:

Where to look? The whole sky, actually. The shooting stars will seem to come from the constellation Perseus, in the northeastern sky. But they may appear anywhere as quick streaks.

Where not to look? Don’t look at the moon, or anything else bright. You want your eyes to get really, really used to the dark.

Where should I go? Any place will do, but darker is better, with a nice expanse of open sky. Get away from city lights if you can.

Special equipment needed: None. Just your eyes.

Can I take pictures? Yes, you’ll need a camera with manual settings, though, and a tripod is a must. Set your lens to the widest possible setting.

Set the ISO (sensitivity to light) to a high number, such as 400 or 1600. And  exposures need to be l-o-n-g. Experiment. An exposure of 30 seconds might give you a field of stars with a couple of streaks across it. Or you might try for an hour (close down the f/stop) and get very little.

Send us your photos if you get lucky.