Attention, night owls: The Perseid meteor shower will peak in the skies above San Diego County this weekend

A meteor shower in the starry night sky.
(Paulista -

Astronomers say the best time to watch is from midnight to sunrise on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, at spots away from the coast


The annual Perseid meteor shower will peak this weekend above San Diego County with mostly favorable viewing conditions in all areas except for the coast, where the marine layer could be thick.

Some meteors could be visible as early as 10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But astronomers say that the best time to look will be from midnight to sunrise.

There will be a waning crescent moon, which will reduce light that can wash out the appearance of some meteors.

NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke says online that, “People in the U.S. can reasonably expect to see around 40 Perseids in the hour just before dawn on the peak nights. That’s about one every couple of minutes, which is not bad. However, we are assuming you are out in the country, well away from cities and suburbs.”

But many of San Diego County’s foothills, valleys, mountains and deserts still offer a very good vantage point for viewing.

These meteors represent small remnants of comet Swift-Tuttle, which was discovered 161 years ago by Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle. The space debris typically causes a flash of light when it hits the upper atmosphere. The light can vary in color, but most meteors last only a second or two.

Swift-Tuttle is 16 miles wide, which is slightly shorter than the distance from downtown San Diego to Del Mar Heights. Scientists say that a comet of that size would cause mass extinctions if it hit Earth. They’re quick to note that Swift-Tuttle is not on a collision course with our planet.