Stargazers Delight

by Katie Cook

The Perseids Meteor shower hits its peak August 12-13, 2013.

The combination of bright city lights and thick fog make stargazing in the Bay Area a challenge.  The Perseids Meteor Shower hits its peak on August 12th and 13th so set your alarm and grab your coffee to enjoy one of the best annual meteor showers.

The Earthgrazer meteor is a long, slow, colorful meteor, and it is also the most elusive meteor to spot during this annual show. Earthgrazers appear in the early evening, but the frequency of the Perseids meteors don’t start to pick up until after midnight. In the early pre-dawn hours meteors bombard the sky , making this the best time to catch the show. Grab some layers and give yourself at least an hour of solid stargazing to truly appreciate this meteor shower.

Here my top picks for places to stargaze in the Bay Area.

  1. Mt. Tam- The Friends of Mt. Tam offer Night Sky Tours every Saturday night during the summer. Local astronomers bring their telescopes to share the beauty of the stars with the public.
  2. Lands End- The tall trees along this coastal trail block out the city lights and make this the darkest sky location in San Francisco.
  3. Marin Headlands– Just North of San Francisco the trails that zig-zag through the Marin Headlands make it easy to find a spot on the mountain all to yourself. The Coastal Trail heading North from Rodeo Beach is my favorite trail for night hiking.
  4. Mt. Diablo- The Mt. Diablo Astronomical Society hosts free, public stargazing events on Saturday nights.
  5. Lawrence Hall of Science– High in the Berkeley Hills the plaza in front of the Lawrence Hall of Science is the perfect place to get cozy with a lawnchair and a blanket for some easily accessible stargazing.
  6. Fremont Peak- Located near Gilroy, Fremont Peak is the furthest observation area on my list. Home to the Fremont Peak Observatory this State Park is a great place to camp out for a weekend full of stargazing.

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