|2010 Perseids, European Southern Hemisphere Paranal Observatory in Chile, ESO/S. Guisard|
Observations of the Perseids Meteor Shower date back to 2000 years ago as they were first described and written down by chinese astronomers around 69 B.C. This annual meteor event occurs between mid July and August as dust particles and debris from the 26 km diameter comet Swift-Tuttle slam into Earths' atmosphere.
Described as "the single most dangerous object in the sky known to humanity, " the Swift-Tuttle is twice the size of the object hypothesized to have wiped out the dinosaurs in the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction even. The comet's orbit has deviated only slightly in the 2000 years its been studied and a close pass is expected to happen in the year 4479. But until then it is an exciting event to witness as the debris from the tail impact Earth's atmosphere and begin to ignite in the night sky.
2013's Perseids Event is supposed to peak on the night of August 12th with an average of 40-70 meteors entering the atmosphere per hour.
Plan on staying up late or getting up early and avoiding cities and larger towns with light pollution to increase your chances of viewing the meteor showers.. The moon will be setting just prior to the peak of the shower making for a darker night sky as well.
If you’d like to try and photograph some meteors traveling across the night sky, then check out these great articles:
Meteor Showers: A Photographer’s Primer – (Luminous Landscape)
Photographing Meteors – (Astropix)