12:15 PM MDT, Tuesday, August 11, 2015
The Perseid meteor shower is one of the two best meteor showers of the year for the United States, the other being the Geminids in December. The Perseids have the great advantage of occurring in the summer, and, they have a reputation of producing some real bright ones complete with vapor trails.
Because of the geometry of the Earth’s encounter with the comet debris that causes the Perseids, they don’t really ramp up until after midnight, with the peak time in the darkness before dawn. Look overhead and to the northeast for the best chance of seeing them. Wednesday and Thursday mornings should be the peak (it seems most astronomy pros are favoring Thursday morning). There will be a nearly new moon, so we shouldn’t have interference from moonlight.
What’s going to crash this party? The leftover clouds from afternoon and evening thunderstorms often mess up perfect viewing. Monsoon moisture has been triggering a scattering of thunderstorms, especially in areas south of I-70. Today will see more of those thunderstorms throughout Colorado. Forecasting cloud formation and dissipation in the Rocky mountain region is a challenge, but there should be at least some areas of nighttime clearing, especially Wednesday night into Thursday morning.