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Perseid meteor showers peaking this weekend in spectacular show

August 10, 2012|By Rene Lynch
  • Perseid image taken from Joshua Tree National Park.
Perseid image taken from Joshua Tree National Park. (Wally Pacholka / AstroPics.com )

The Perseid meteor shower -- that annual summertime favorite -- is back this weekend. And it's expected to be spectacular.

The stars have aligned, so to speak, to enhance viewing Friday night and Saturday night when the Perseid meteor shower will be at its finest. The shower, which lasts from Aug. 10 through Aug. 13, is widely considered to be the best of the year, says the astronomy website EarthSky.

One tip: Try not to blink. "The Perseids are typically fast and bright meteors," EarthSky says.

Tweet us your Perseid photos at #LATPerseid

The waning crescent moon is one of the many reasons why viewing conditions are especially good this weekend.

And you won't necessarily have to stay up terribly late -- or get up especially early -- to enjoy the show, EarthSky says.

EXPLAINER: NASA on why this year's Perseid meteor shower will be the best

"Meteors are typically best after midnight, but ... with the moon rising into the predawn sky, you might want to watch for Perseid meteors in late evening as well," the site says.

The best viewing, however, still will be during the darkest part of the night because the Perseids tend to strengthen in number as late night deepens into midnight, according to EarthSky.

Don't despair if you just can't swing a late night. There's always the option of waking up super early as the Perseids "typically produce the most meteors in the wee hours before dawn."

In other words, just look up into the sky. There's almost no bad time to catch this shower.

If you have the flexibility and want a prime viewing location, the Los Angeles Griffith Observatory suggests finding a "wilderness location, far from the effects of urban light pollution." If you're going all out, the observatory suggests positioning your sleeping bag or chair so that you're facing east or northeast.

The Perseids often peak at 50 or more meteors per hour in a dark sky, EarthSky says. This year, however, the meteors are expected to fly at a rate closer to 50 or 60 meteors per hour.

Stargazers are also in for an added treat: The moon will brush past Venus and Jupiter in the eastern predawn sky, EarthSky says, adding: "You can’t ask for more!"

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Join Rene Lynch on Google+ and Twitter. Email: rene.lynch@latimes.com

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