The moon is only two days past new today and is a waxing (growing larger) crescent. First quarter is next Wednesday. The moon will be setting before midnight before reaching first quarter, which is helpful for our viewing of the upcoming Perseids meteor shower.
There are many meteor showers during the year, but the Perseids in August, the Leonids in November, and the Geminids in December are predictably good year to year.
Meteors (aka "falling stars" or "shooting stars") are debris from outer space typically the size of a grain of sand. When a meteor passes through the Earth's atmosphere at high speeds, it heats up, glows brightly and finally vaporizes. If a meteor makes it all the way to the ground, it is called a meteorite.
Meteors occur randomly during the night coming from any part of the sky. As the Earth moves around the sun, it sometimes encounters a rich lode of debris when it crosses the path of a comet. A meteor shower occurs during which a large number of meteors appear to radiate from a point in the sky.
This "radiant" is in the constellation for which the shower is named. The radiant for the Perseids is in Perseus the Hero. Fortunately, the moon will have set before the peak of the Perseids, which occurs after midnight on Sunday evening and Monday morning.
Even though the Perseids radiate from Perseus, they can be seen all over the sky, and it is not necessary to look at Perseus to see meteors. Perseus is well above the horizon by 1 a.m. From then until morning twilight, the meteors should get better and better.
Get out a good lawn chair, face it toward the northeast, put on insect repellent, lean back, and enjoy the show with hot chocolate, coffee or tea.
Contact Tim Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org