The Perseid Meteor shower is an annual astronomical affair. It occurs when the Earth's orbit passes through the trail left by the Comet Swift-Tuttle. The debris left in this comet's trail is burned up as it enters Earth's atmosphere, causing the brilliant display. Earth passes through the debris trail from July 17th to August 24th, with the peak of the shower being on August 12th. This year is an outburst year for the meteor shower, meaning meteors will appear at double the rate, possibly reaching 200 meteors per hour. This meteor shower is one of the more brilliant annual showers and generally has good weather being in August.
The best night to watch the meteor shower is the peak, August 12th, 2016. Conveniently, it's a Friday, so you can sleep in the next day! Why do you need to sleep in? Well the meteors originate from the constellation Perseus which rises above the constellation about 10 pm local time. However, the best time to watch is after midnight. The moon will be going down below the horizon, making the sky much darker, and the meteors easier to see. You'll want to be patient, it can take about half an hour for your eyes to adjust to the darkness to be able to properly see all the meteors. But once you adjust, you should be able to see two or three per minute.
You want to be somewhere dark with a wide view of the sky to get the most out of your meteor shower viewing. Getting away from city lights is a must, and Estes is a great place to do that. Rocky Mountain National Park offers a great dark space, and driving up Trail Ridge Road would provide a wonderful panoramic view of the sky.
If you're interested in astronomy and learning more about what is going on above us, visit the Estes Park Memorial Observatory. Home to a 16-inch telescope in a 16-foot dome, the observatory is a gateway to the sky located in the base camp for Rocky Mountain National Park. You can schedule a visit to be shared with other guests or reserve a private viewing on the Observatory's website.