The Perseid Meteor shower is one of the most talked about meteor showers each summer in the Northern Hemisphere. It's fairly consistent each year, producing a rich and steady stream of meteors that are fast and bright in the sky, and that leave persistent trains behind them.
When does it peak and will we be able to view them near DC, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia?
It is expected to peak this weekend - on the mornings of August 11th, 12th, and 13th. On average, the meteor shower should supply roughly 50 meteors per hour; however, sometimes you can get outbursts of 100-200 meteors per hour, while other hours or nights will provide much less.
The meteors radiate from the constellation Perseus, but you won't need to search for the constellation in the sky because they will streak across the sky in every direction. The key to finding these is to find a place not near city lights and not near a bunch of trees, giving yourself a clear view of the night sky. Let your eyes adjust for 20 minutes, then have patience and observe the sight.
This year, there will be two factors that could get in the way of your sighting of the spectacle: moonlight and clouds.
1) Moonlight -- The full Sturgeon Moon was on Monday night, August 7th. This weekend there will still be a bright waning gibbous moon that could interfere with seeing some of the meteors. If you really want to avoid the moonlight obscuring your view, try stargazing before moonrise earlier in the evenings just after sunset.
2) Cloud Cover -- This weekend's forecast includes more clouds and some shower/storm chances. This could be a bigger player to your sight line to the sky. Cloud forecasts show partly to mostly cloudy skies each evening.
Best of luck!