Activities | Sky
California Meteor Showers
Usually the Perseid Meteor Shower is the best show of the year, unless there is a full moon present. New moon w/ darkest conditions are best for viewing meteor showers. Always buy wall calendars w/ full moon and new moon, as well as major holidays, so you can plan your outings around the night sky and 3 day weekends.
Meteors also called falling or shooting stars occur when the Earth passes through debris fields left by passing comets. What we are witnessing when we see a shooting-star is a small piece of interplanetary matter, called a meteor, entering the Earth's atmosphere and 'burning up' at a height of about 100 km. While most look bright white, some can appear blue, green, yellow, orange, or red. Some may even explode at the end of its visible flight. Most showers produce about 20 meteors per hour but there are showers which can produce hundreds of meteors over a period of less than an hour. Such shows are, unfortunately, very rare. Meteor showers are named after the constellation from which they appear to radiate and can happen any month throughout the year.
All you need to observe these celestial displays are a dark sky, a way to stay comfortable, and a little patience. Light pollution or moonlight will drastically reduce the number of meteors you see, so plan accordingly. This is a perfect time for a camping trip. A dark site with an open expanse of the sky is supreme. After all flashlights are out & you get away from the campfire light - give your eyes at least 20 minutes to adjust to the dark. Settle in, look up, and relax.
Keep campfires low or do without one all together for this evening of stargazing. Make yourself comfortable with a reclining lawn chair, sleeping bag, coffee or hot chocolate. Have plenty of snacks on hand along with good music and the company of other stargazers. Remember keep your eyes turned toward the assigned NE direction of the sky.
Start your watch no earlier than midnight or 2 a.m. or preferably later. The hour or two before dawn should be best of all. If camping, as ridiculous as it seems, bring a portable alarm clock with you. For most people this will be a 'wake early & view' not a 'stay-up-late & miss it' project.
Plan Ahead! Meteor showers are the perfect time to plan your outdoor trips. Time to reserve that special cabin in the mountains or think about a camping adventure in the high desert, mountains or countryside.
First off Get outta the City!
Light pollution from large cities ruins most all night
skies. If you are gonna drive out, might as well camp
out. Get a cabin in the mountains or reserve a room in your favorite
remote central coast retreat. Most of the time the coastal regions
may have too much moisture in the air for optimum viewing. The
inland areas such as the Mountains
& Deserts are the best
Camping with Space!
By August, Summer is almost over & another year is about to pass you by..... & you have yet to go camping this season? Now is the time. End of the summer clearance sales for great gear deals; Warm nights; Plenty of great destinations await you.
Below are some of the best places in California to camp out and see the stars without the typically crowded campgrounds. Venture out to primitive sites down dirt back roads and be as secluded as you want. Don't forget your free
- This land north of Los Angeles is not densely forested in most areas,
so finding a good dirt road clearing or open sage meadow is fairly easy. Plenty of dirt roads
to explore out here. North of Santa Clarita, an hour up the I-5; Close to Los Angeles for a quick overnighter, but far enough away from the big city lights.
Inyo National Forest -The area here is far from major city lights, great stargazing country.
Sequoia National Forest - This prime forested area in the southern Sierras provides plenty of open spaces and old logging roads. These dirt roads are pefect to primitive camp along. Just remember your fire permit.
Cleveland National Forest
- Close to Southern California but far enough from the cities.
San Bernardino National Forest
- Close to all of Southern California, some city lights may effect viewing.
Sierra National Forest - Western side of the Sierra, Escape the heat well above the Central Valley.
Stanislaus National Forest - The mid-Sierra's best kept secret. From Sonora Pass all the way to Twain Harte.
||tips: Best to get a National Forest Service Map of the area you wanna visit, before you start driving dirt backroads. Plan out your trip so you wont be driving in circles in the dark & getting lost.
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