Two astronomical factors conspire against the Perseids in 2012. First, for observers in eastern North America, the meteor shower will reach its peak during broad daylight. In fact, maximum activity for the shower is expected to occur around 8:00 a.m. EDT, on the morning of August 12. For us, the night of August 11 to 12 will be closest to the maximum. However, after 1:00 A.M. you'll have to contend with the Moon's presence, which will light the sky and mask the faintest meteors.
But the situation isn't a total loss, and unless you've traveled to extra-dark skies, completely free from light pollution, that extra light from the Moon should have little impact. Toward the end of the night, on August 11 to 12, just a few hours before the maximum, you can still expect to see about thirty meteors an hour – provided the sky is clear. But if the weather doesn't cooperate, take heart: The nights preceding and following the peak are still worth considering, even though the number of meteors diminishes rapidly with time, on either side of the maximum period.
Follow the techniques on our Observating shooting stars page, for a safe and enjoyable observation.
So get your wish-list ready, and … Here's to clear skies!