Perseids Meteor Over the North Cascades. Image by Fort PhotoThe Perseid meteor shower occurs annually as the earth crosses the debris wake of comet Swift-Tuttle. Look towards the constellation Perseus this week and you may spot shooting stars spewing forth towards you (if you are in the northern hemisphere). The shower peaks August 12th and 13th, but because of city lights and the (waning) gibbous moon it may be hard to get a good view. The Moon may down any chance of seeing shooting stars when you look up, so one trick is to look before the moon is up. The moon will rise an hour or so after dark, so early in the evening you may actually have the best chance to view spectacular and bright earth grazers; earth grazers are meteors that skim along the top of the earth's atmosphere resulting in horizontally traveling overhead meteors (as opposed to downward traveling for most meteors in the shower). The moon will continue to wane this week and because the peak of the shower is extended over several nights there may continue to be frequency meteor viewing even Thursday or Friday evening. Each night the shower has peak activity hours which are 11 p.m. to dawn so you may hear contradictory advice to look after 11 p.m. or to look early; what you should do is simply look often. To see the meteors simply find a dark open view of the sky and look towards Perseus in the northeast as indicated in the star chart below and be patient. I have seen hundreds of shooting stars in my time, but most of them were not during a famous meteor shower event. Simply look up and observe on any night and good things will come.
Update: Un artículo excelente en español, Perseidas: un regalo caído del cielo.