Mount Hamilton not recommended for viewing Perseid meteor shower

Lick Observatory is closed to the public at night, parking limited on Mt. Hamilton Road

There are plenty of good places from which to observe the Perseid meteor shower this weekend, but atop Mount Hamilton is not one of them, according to police and astronomers at Lick Observatory.

Lick Observatory is closed to the public at night, and there are no public facilities available for nighttime viewing on Mount Hamilton Road (State Highway 130). The observatory has installed gates on the access road to its grounds, and public access is not allowed from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. nightly.

In addition, no parking or stopping is permitted along Mount Hamilton Road from Alum Rock Avenue to two miles east of the observatory. Drivers who stop or park along this section of the road will be cited. A supplementary County Sheriff unit will be on patrol this weekend.

The meteor shower can be observed from any dark location away from city lights, and there is no advantage to being on Mount Hamilton as opposed to any other dark site, said John Wareham, deputy director of Lick Observatory.

The annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak this weekend. Unfortunately, a full moon will diminish the visibility of the meteors by flooding the sky with light. The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year around this time when Earth passes through the trail of debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle.

Lick Observatory is an astronomical research facility operated by the University of California Observatories. Its administrative headquarters are on the UC Santa Cruz campus. The observatory's visitor center is open to the public daily from 12 noon to 5 p.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. For more information, call (408) 274-5061.