However, all is not lost. Meteor showers vary in the duration, some lasting only a day or two with a clear peak moment, while others are spread over a longer period of time. Luckily, the Perseids are a longer-duration meteor shower, starting in late July and continuing through mid-August. Although the best viewing is on August 13th, the rate of meteors is already dramatically increasing by August 9th, and at that point in time this year, the Moon will not completely wash away the meteors. In fact, the Moon will be setting in the early morning, giving the dedicated meteor chaser an hour or two to see some fine Perseids before the first light of dawn. So my advice is to look on this schedule:
Early morning Tuesday August 9th: From 1:30 until 5:00 am.
Early morning Wednesday August 10th: From 2:30 until 5:00 am.
Early morning Thursday August 11th: From 3:30 until 5:00 am.
Early morning Friday August 12th: From 4:30 to 5:00 am.
These times are for San Francisco. The start time depends upon when the Moon sets, a bit later each morning. The end time depends upon the time of your local sunrise which may vary based upon your location. Use this website to determine your local conditions. In San Francisco, sunrise is shortly after 6:00 am, so I recommend viewing until 5:00 am at which time the first light of dawn will begin to interfere with viewing of meteors.
As is the case with every meteor shower, you need to get yourself in as dark a location as you can. In a big city, that means away from streetlights and in a spot with a big view of the sky. The meteors will appear to emanate from the East, but they will cross the sky in all directions, so your best view is lying on your back looking up. Get some blankets, stay warm and enjoy.
Image courtesy National Geographic.