From May 4 – 6, the Eta Aquarid meteor shower is set to peak, dazzling the night sky with up to 50 meteors an hour moving fast and producing long tails. As with any meteor shower, the best place to see it is away from any man-made light and the best time to see it is predawn, or between 11 pm and 3 am.
This meteor shower is of medium brightness, meaning it will be much easier to see without man-made light pollution. Luckily, the moon will only be about 15% full during the event, so that should add to the darker skies. According to NASA, the best way to see the shower is to look for the constellation Aquarius, which is in the southern sky.
There are so many places to watch this celestial event in Northern California. Here are our favorites:
Lava Beds National Monument
With Lava Beds National Monument being so rural in the upper portion of NorCal, it rarely sees any man-made light, making it one of the best places on the west coast for stargazing. The park’s clean, dry air miles-and-miles away from urban pollution has to be seen to believe. In fact, the park is known as a dark-sky preserve, which means the area naturally restricts artificial light pollution.
There are a few ways to get a glimpse of the starry night above Lava Beds National Monument. The first is the obvious nighttime hike, which there are 13 trails in the park, all with some fantastic historic and geologic marvels to see along the way. Bring your headlamp, cameras and sense of wonder to the the beautiful starry night above. Here is a complete guide to all 13 hikes in the Lava Beds.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
The best place to see any celestial event might be a nighttime hike to the top of Lassen Peak. But if you don’t have the energy to summit the currently snowy mountain, there are still many options in the park to get a good view. Manzanita Lake and Lake Helen will surely provide some picturesque reflection photography opportunities. Also, a view of Brokeoff Mountain with shooting stars will certainly be breathtaking. No matter where you go in the park, Lassen is known as a great place to go stargazing.
If you can find a place around the lake to escape the city lights, there’s nothing like experiencing a starry night sky over Lake Tahoe. Maybe the best place to find the best night sky is the Desolation Wilderness, but that may be too snowy this time of year. Anywhere in the higher altitudes above the lake will give you great views.
There are SO MANY places to see the meteor shower above Mount Shasta.As you ascend into the higher elevations, Perseid will certainly feel much bigger and brighter than in the valley. If you head up to Bunny Flats you should be able to see the stars bigger and brighter than anywhere in NorCal.
You’ll have a great view if you sit on the beach of Siskiyou Lake, watching the moon as it hovers above Mount Shasta with a reflection on the lake. Also, a nighttime hike to Heart Lake could be the To be quite honest, anywhere near Mount Shasta City seems like a winner in this scenario.
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
We’ve documented the wonderful adventure of kayaking on Whiskeytown Lake during the full moon, and this occasion might prove to be an even better experience for a night on the water. You can always get on a boat (if you have access to one), grab a kayak or go to Brandy Creek. Another option would be to hike up to the top of Shasta Bally to have an overhead view of the super moon floating over the lake. So many options here…
Yosemite National Park
Although Yosemite can become packed with visitors during the summer, there is plenty of room to enjoy a night sky. The park still stays far away from city lights and can give you one heck of a show during the meteor shower.
Take NorCal’s most beautiful landmark (and The Eighth Wonder of the World) and put a a meteor shower above it – enough said. Watch it from the rocks below the majestic waterfall or get an overhead view from the trailhead above. Either way this opportunity is too great to pass up.