New Cameras to Track Perseid Meteor Shower from Meteor Crater

A new Lowell Observatory meteor-tracking camera system, made up of 16 video cameras, is ready to watch the 2018 Perseid meteor shower's peak from Meteor Crater in Arizona.
A new Lowell Observatory meteor-tracking camera system, made up of 16 video cameras, is ready to watch the 2018 Perseid meteor shower's peak from Meteor Crater in Arizona. (Image credit: Lowell Observatory)

Scientists are hoping to see one of the year's best meteor showers from one of the most scenic places on Earth: Arizona's Meteor Crater.

Astronomers with the Lowell Observatory in Arizona have activated a new meteor video surveillance system at Meteor Crater (formally known as Barringer Crater) just in time for the 2018 Perseid meteor shower this weekend.

The Perseid meteor shower will peak overnight tonight (Aug. 12-13), with between 60-70 meteors visible per hour for observers with clear, dark skies away from city lights. The meteor shower occurs each year when Earth passes through dust from the Comet Swift-Tuttle. [Perseid Meteor Shower 2018: When, Where & How to See It]

The new tracking system at Meteor Crater will observe Perseid meteors using 16 video cameras that will watch the entire night sky. Meteor Crater is about 35 miles east of Flagstaff, Arizona. It was caused by the impact of an asteroid 164 feet (50 meters) wide hit the Earth 50,000 years ago. 

"The cameras pinpoint recovery locations for large meteors that impact Earth," Nick Moskovitz of Lowell Observatory said in a statement. "Our goal is to discover new meteor showers and better understand meteors and their link to asteroids and comets in the solar system."

Moskovitz leads the Lowell Observatory CAMS project, or LO-CAMS, which is part of the larger Cameras for All-sky Meteor Surveillance (CAMS) project led by meteor astronomer Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute and NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.  

CAMS meteor-tracking systems use a network of 16 video cameras per location instead of a single all-sky camera with a fish-eye lens to track meteors.

The 2018 Perseid meteor shower peaks overnight on Aug. 12-13, 2018. This sky map shows where to look at 11 p.m. local time this weekend. (Image credit: Sky & Telescope Magazine)

"Because this approach uses much more sensitive cameras, trajectories for hundreds of meteors per night are calculated and posted almost immediately on the web," Moskovitz said. "And by measuring these trajectories at high precision, we are able to determine where they came from in the solar system."

The new LO-CAMS system is the second built by the Lowell Observatory. The first is at the observatory itself in Flagstaff, Arizona. Meteor Crater Enterprises, which oversees tours and other facilities at Meteor Crater, funded the new meteor-tracking station.

If bad weather spoils your Perseid meteor shower this weekend, you can watch the a live webcast here, courtesy of the astronomy broadcast service Slooh. The 6-hour webcast begins at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT) and you can watch it directly on

Editor's note: If you snap an awesome photo of the Perseid meteor shower that you'd like to share with and our news partners for a potential story or gallery, send images and comments to

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.