You're welcome ambushrocks.
There are some things you can do to minimize your chances of missing a meteor shower due to cloud, depending on how determined you are to catch a good
Firstly, choose a nice dark location as far from any man made lights as possible, and as far South as possible, preferably somewhere with an arid
climate, and/or some altitude - if you can get above cloud cover, you are all set!
Secondly, plan to observe for a few nights in a row around the peak to increase your chances of a clear night. In many cases, meteor showers are
active for many days before and after the peak, and there are often multiple peaks and sub-peaks. The Perseids are great in this respect, since rates
build up over the course of a week, and the nights either side of peak can end up being better than the forecasted peak in some cases.
Thirdly, before the peak keep checking what the weather is doing and try to drive to a location where there is clear sky. You can get a good idea what
the weather is doing by checking here
Just to clarify some of the terminology associated with the subject further:
is what we refer to as the "parent body" when we talk about meteor showers. One example would be
, which remained visible in the sky to the naked eye for
are the small particles of comet (or indeed an asteroid) that collectively form a "dust trail" associated with that parent body.
Since comets, and all other objects in the solar system orbit the Sun (or another object that orbits the Sun), so do the meteoroids/dust-trails, and
in the case of some parent bodies who's orbits cross that of the Earth we get meteor showers associated with that parent body, for example the
upcoming Perseids which are associated with comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle
When a meteoroid enters the atmosphere, it's going so fast that it creates a compression wave in front of it. Air molecules encountering this
compression wave or "bow-shock" as it's known are ripped apart or ionized giving off light in the process. The luminous phenomena we see is known
as a meteor
if it's above a certain brightness. In your case, the qualifier "very bright" would also be appropriate.
Any rocks surviving the luminous stage, and which make it to the ground are refferred to as meteorites
Here is a web page with a basic overview and some examples.
[edit on 1-7-2008 by C.H.U.D.]