Perseid Meteor Shower

The perennial favorite of summertime astronomical events, the Perseid meteor shower, peaks TONIGHT (night of the 11th through the early morning hours of the 12th). The Perseid meteors appear to stream from the constellation Perseus the Hero in the northeast sky. Perseus may be found very low near the horizon at 10 p.m. but by dawn it is much higher. The Perseid shower is fairly dependable, and it usually produces at least one or two meteors per minute when it is observed from dark sky locations, far from urban light pollution. If you are watching from Los Angeles, you will see far fewer meteors. This year the waning crescent moon will provide a small amount of interference after it rises at 12:22 a.m.

Tips for observing meteor showers
Because a telescope provides a detailed look at a very small part of the sky, telescopes are not very useful for watching a meteor shower. To watch a meteor shower, you need to be able to watch as much of the sky as possible, and the best way to do that is to watch by eye, without optical aid.

For a schedule of showers throughout the year please see Griffith Observatory's annual list of meteor showers.

  • A lounge chair that allows you to lie on your back and tilt your gaze to about three-quarters the way up from the horizon to the zenith, the point directly overhead.
  • A coat, sleeping bag, and blankets to stay warm.
  • Keep your eyes dark adapted. It is important not to look at bright light (including from your phone) for at least 10 minutes before you start your watch and until you are through.

Data Collection
Count the number of meteors seen in one hour – a basic scientific measurement that is made during a meteor shower.

Measure the brightness – each meteor can be compared to the brightness (stellar magnitude) of known stars or planets. If you know the constellations and can identify stars, you can refine the data as you collect it.  

Perseid or random meteor – it is possible that not every meteor you see is from the shower you are observing. The path of a meteor of a particular shower appears to point back to a point called the radiant. The name of the shower comes from the constellation around the radiant – the Perseid meteor shower from the the constellation Perseus.

If you have a cell phone or other device with sound recording capability, you can record your comments about meteors while you watch, without having to take your eyes off the sky.

To up your meteor observing expertise, check out websites of meteor astronomy organizations such as the American Meteor Society or the International Meteor Organization.
SPACE/RACE: Going Boldly
When NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover mission launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida in the wee hours of July 30, 2020, Dr. Moogega Stricker was leading the coverage as a co-anchor at the NASA TV desk. A planetary protection engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, Stricker always dreamed of working for the government agency.
One of the people that Dr. Stricker and the Black scientists, researchers, and astronauts of today can thank is Nichelle Nichols – yes, the actor who portrayed Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura. She used her fame to inspire and recruit diverse candidates for space-related careers. For more on the impact of her role on and off screen, check out this video from the Smithsonian Channel explores.
Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura.
All Aboard to Mars!
(that means you, too!)

Did you know that onboard the Perseverance are the names of 10,932,295 people who responded to NASA’s “Send Your Name to Mars” campaign? Those who signed up were issued a “Boarding Pass” before liftoff. One of those passes (see below) was issued for Chesley Bonestell (1888-1986), the legendary space artist who first visualized a journey by humans to Mars back in the 1940s.
You might have been with us in November 2019 when Friends Of The Observatory showed the documentary Chesley Bonestell: A Brush with the Future about the space artist's life and work.
The Bonestell Crater on Mars
You don't have to have a Martian crater named after you to get your name aboard NASA's next flight to the Red Planet. They're already taking reservations! Click here to sign up for your boarding pass on the next Mars mission.
Looking Ahead

As Friends Of The Observatory, securing the future begins with us, the people and organizations that love Griffith Observatory. While the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks funds the Observatory's daily operations and maintenance, your FOTO contributions underwrite or subsidize many of the Observatory's educational programs, critical technical enhancements, and specialized support.
When this crisis is behind us, we will all need to experience a sense of renewed joy and wonder. FOTO is committed to ensuring the Observatory plays a major role in bringing that back to Los Angeles. It will be your support, advocacy, and enthusiasm that allows us to continue to sustain Griffith Observatory and its programs.
In addition to donations and membership, you can support FOTO every time you make a purchase with Amazon or Ralphs. Click here for details on how to connect your accounts and support FOTO fundraising while doing your regular shopping without spending anything extra.

Find detailed coverage of the week ahead in the Observatory Sky Report.
Preview astronomy highlights of the month ahead in the Observatory Calendar. View information on current and upcoming Meteor Showers.

Griffith Observatory is CLOSED until further notice.

NOTE: There may be limits on private vehicle access to the western part of Griffith Park via the Fern Dell gate. Parking is limited.

Please click here for a full list of Recreation and Parks closures.