The most popular meteor shower of the year.
|Main Activity Dates||July 17 to August 24|
|Peak Rates||Aug 12-13|
|Best Observed Rates||During the night of Aug 12-13|
|Visibility each night (UK)||Visible all night|
|Moonlight issues at Maximum||Medium: 40% waning crescent|
The Perseids remain a favourite with most observers.
Although they are out-performed by December’s Geminids in terms of observed meteor rates, the Perseids have the advantage of occurring at a time of year when the nights are not too cool and at a time when many people take their summer breaks.
Although Perseid activity can be seen over a period of more than a month, the best rates occur in the days around Aug 12th. The “traditional” Perseid maximum is predicted for Aug 12d 23h UT and the best observed rates from this are likely to be seen during the night of Aug 12-13 (Sun–Mon). Good rates are also likely during the nights of Aug 11-12 and 13-14, so don’t just focus on the night of Aug 12-13 and risk being clouded out!
The Perseid radiant is circumpolar from the UK, so you should start to see some Perseids as soon as it gets dark. The best observed rates are likely to occur in the early morning when the radiant is higher in the sky.
Few Perseids will be seen if you look directly at the shower radiant (their paths will be too short to easily see against the star background). For the best observed rates, look at an area of sky around 30-40 degrees from the radiant and at an altitude of around 50 degrees (but obviously tailor this to take into account local factors such as sky obstructions and light pollution.)
Being rich in bright meteors makes the Perseid shower a good target for imaging.
Here are very useful guides to
imaging using a DSLR http://www.popastro.com/main_spa1/meteor/meteor-imaging-with-dslr-cameras
and imaging using a video camera http://www.popastro.com/main_spa1/meteor/observing-meteors-with-a-video-camera/
The shower is also good for trained meteors, with around a third leaving persistent trains.
Care should be taken to identify the correct location for the Perseid radiant (see the chart below) before observing, as this changes significantly between late July and the Aug 12 peak.