The Perseid meteor showers were observed as far back as two thousand years ago, and in ancient Europe, the Perseid meteor shower was known as the “Tears of St. Lawrence.” The Perseids are considered by many people to be the year’s best shower, and often peak at 50 or more meteors per hour – in years when the moon is out of the sky. However, 2011 is not a great year for the Perseids, because the moon is full on the expected peak date.
EarthSky recommends watching in first 10 days of August to have moonless skies from midnight to dawn, the best time of night for watching meteors. You’ll have an entirely moon-free sky after midnight during August’s first week, as the meteors are beginning to build. The Perseids tend to strengthen in number as late night deepens into midnight, and typically produce the most meteors in the wee hours before dawn. You’ll have a window of darkness for a few hours before dawn on August 8, 9 and 10.
Bright moonlight will drown all but the brightest meteors from view on August 11 and 12 – that is, the mornings of August 12 and 13 – the mornings for the Perseid meteor shower. But many report the thrill of seeing a bright meteor streaking along in the light of the moon. All in all, the first 10 days of August 2011 are a good time to look up!
Excerpt taken and edited from EarthSky.
Read more about the 2011 Perseids here, get some photography tips here, and have a look at the 2011 meteor shower guide if you just can’t get enough.