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2 astronomical phenomena happening this week: Supermoon & Perseid meteor shower

Sturgeon Moon and Perseid Meteor Shower will light up skies this week

Final Supermoon

This week, not one, but two astronomical phenomena will light up the skies. The last Supermoon of the year, and the Perseid meteor shower presents significant astronomical events for the world to witness in the coming days.

Don’t miss the last chance to see the unusually bright Moon this year, as August Full Moon will be the last Supermoon in 2022. 

Last Supermoon of the year — the ‘Sturgeon moon’

This will be the fourth Supermoon in a row, and the last one of 2022. It will occur on Thursday, August 11 at approximately 9:36 p.m. EDT and 6:36 p.m. PDT (Friday at 01:36 GMT.) 

The Supermoon also known as the ‘Sturgeon moon’, is named after the sturgeon fish caught during this time of year. For many tribes living around the Great Lakes, August was traditionally the time to fish for sturgeon.

What is a Supermoon?

A Supermoon is a Full or New Moon at or near (within 90% of) the closest approach to the Earth in a given orbit, which gives us four to view this year, we have already seen three in May, June and July, and August’s Supermoon will be the last of the year.

Super Full Moons appear 7% bigger and 16% brighter than the ordinary ones.

The best time to observe the celestial display, when it’s at the closest from the Earth, is from a vantage point.

Sarath Raj N.S., project director of the Amity satellite ground station in Dubai, head of the aerospace engineering program at Amity University in Dubai, explained this technical phenomena.

“Currently, the Earth’s equatorial plane and the lunar 5.1°. corresponding to the ecliptic. Due to the eccentric orbit of the Moon and its position relative to the Earth, the distance between two bodies changes. Lunar perigee is the term used to describe when the Moon is approaching the Earth.

During the lunar apogee, the Moon is at its greatest distance from the Earth. A Supermoon occurs when the lunar perigee is close to the full moon, and a Micromoon occurs when the lunar apogee occurs very close to the full moon. Regardless of Earth’s location, the full moon always rises closer to sunset in the east and sets close to sunrise in the west.”

Perseid meteor shower

The dazzling lunar show clashes with one of the most anticipated meteor showers of the year — the Perseid meteor shower. The shower is predicted to hit its peak on the night of Friday, 12th August and stretch into the early hours of Saturday, 13th August when the sky is at its darkest.

Perseid meteor shower
Perseid meteor shower

The Perseid meteor shower is widely regarded as the most spectacular of all the meteor showers that take place throughout the year. Usually, there are 50 to 100 “shooting stars” per hour at its height, but this year it coincides with the Supermoon, which can corrupt the  view by outshining the meteors. 

The bright Full moon will reduce the visibility of meteors to about 10-20 per hour at most according to a statement from NASA.

“Sadly, this year’s Perseids peak will see the worst possible circumstances for spotters,” said NASA astronomer Bill Cooke, who leads the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “Most of us in North America would normally see 50 or 60 meteors per hour,” he said, “but this year, during the normal peak, the full Moon will reduce that to 10-20 per hour at best.”

Supermoon - Perseid meteor shower

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“The Moon will be fully illuminated for around three days, from Wednesday morning through Saturday morning, with a brightness range between 92.1 percent and 98.8 percent. On 11 August 2022, the Sturgeon Moon will be visible, while on August 12 and 13, 2022, the Perseid meteor shower is anticipated to reach its peak. This year’s meteor showers won’t be easy to view because of the moonlight. In 2023, there will be two Supermoons, on August 1 and August 31, respectively,” said Sarath Raj N.S.