In 2012, the peak of the Perseids meteor shower will coincide with a waning crescent moon. This will produce favorable viewing circumstances for observers expecting to get the full effect of this yearly summer experience. With upwards of 80 meteors per hour predicted, it may well be worth staying out to catch quite a few impressive bursts of light streaking through the night sky.
On average, under completely clear skies, and in complete darkness, observers may witness 20 to 80 meteors per hour; but these rates can exceed up to 120 meteors per hour in rural locations. Be aware that local conditions such as light pollution, cloud cover, and precipitation will also play a major role in the number of meteors you are likely to see.
For the best viewing experience, find an area unobstructed by a structure that is far away from city lights. Using optical devices such as binoculars or telescopes is not recommended, as your field of view will be greatly restricted, thus making the possibility of missing a "shooting star" more likely.
Once you have settled down at your observation spot, face half-way up toward the northeastern portion of the sky. Looking northeast, you will have the constellation of Perseus, the radiant of the Perseids shower, within your field of view. Not coincidentally, the Perseids meteor shower is named after the constellation Perseus for the reason that they appear to originate from the sparkling Greek “hero.”
Looking directly up at the sky or into the radiant is not recommended since this is just the point in which they appear to come from. You are more likely to see a trail when looking slightly away from this point. Looking half-way up into the sky will lead to the best show in the house.
Watching a meteor shower is sometimes takes a great deal of patience, but if you wait long enough, you should be rewarded with a an experience that won’t soon be forgotten. Happy gazing!