Any discussion of meteor shower activity for August inevitably focuses on the Perseids.
Although not the strongest meteor shower of the year, the time of the Perseids coinciding with the not so cold nights of August and the holiday season makes them the favourite of many observers. The shower is also rich in bright trained meteors.
Perseid activity starts around July 20 and lasts for about a month. Peak rates in 2012 will occur during Aug 12 (a Sunday) which means that either Aug 11-12 or Aug 12-13 might produce the highest activity. Although moonlight will hinder observations of the early Perseids and, for UK observers, the moon will move frustratingly slow out of the evening sky after the Full Moon of Aug 2, it will by the night of maximum be only a thin crescent in Taurus rising late in the night and so mostly just an irritation.
Care should be taken to identify the correct location (see the chart below) for the Perseid radiant before observing, as this changes significantly between late July and the peak.
Active alongside the Perseids in early August are the later parts of the southern Delta Aquarids and Alpha Capricornid showers, which peaked around the end of July, along with the more general activity of the Antihelion source (see chart below) and the sporadic background. Numerous other minor showers have also been listed over the years including the Alpha Cygnids, Gamma Draconids and Lacertids, although the existence of these is open to question.
Later in the month, we see activity from the Kappa Cygnids. These peak around the 18th and providing fairly low activity that has often been reported as being rich in bright meteors. At the end of the month, the Alpha Aurigids peak. This is another shower that usually provides low activity that can be rich in bright meteors. Moonlight will not be a problem for the Kappa Cynids this year but will seriously hinder observations of the Alpha Aurigids.