Depending on where you live, the Perseids meteor shower will be reaching its peak sometime during the night of August 12th and the morning of August 13th. Since many factors can impact the visibility of astronomical events like meteor showers, NASA provides a great Java applet called the Fluxtimator that can show you the best time to go stargazing.
To use the Fluxtimator, select the meteor shower you would like to observe (tonight’s being “#7 Perseids”), select your location, and then select your viewing conditions. Specifying your viewing conditions will help fine tune the ideal time to view the event.
Once you’ve entered the information, you’ll see a chart displaying the optimal times to view the shower. In my part of the world, best viewing conditions for the Perseids will occur between 1am and 5am on August 13th.
The Fluxtimator takes into account moonlight (which is supposed to be minimal this year, providing a better view of the shower), but you should stay away from city lights and street lamps for the best possible view.
The Perseids should be visible around the Cassiopeia constellation, and you can check out Sky and Telescope’s great illustration of where to look. Android users can use the free app Google Sky Map to easily locate the correct area to watch.
Happy stargazing!Image credit: Tambako