Supermoon, Perseid Meteor Shower light up NJ sky
A celestial doubleheader will fill the night sky over New Jersey this weekend but the light from one event may partially upstage the other.
Considered the best display of the year, the annual Perseid meteor shower will be at their brightest Sunday morning in the pre-dawn hours with as many as 50-75 meteors-an-hour streaking across the sky according to the U.S. Naval Observatory.
However, the effects of the Supermoon, or perigee moon, Sunday’will cause the moon to appear 30 percent brighter than usual, creating too much light to see many of the meteors. The Perseids are also brighter than normal with occasional fireballs so “it’s not a complete washout,” Ben Burress, an astronomer with the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, California tells USA Today. “But it won’t be nearly as good as it would if the moon wasn’t up.”
Burress says to see the Perseids, look in the northeastern portion of the sky in the constellation Perseus, which is just to the left of the Pleiades.
The “Supermoon” happens when the moon is full on the same day as its perigee, the time at which the moon is closes to the earth, CNN. reports. According to EarthSky.org, the August full moon will be the closest and largest of the year.
A few suggestions from NASA on watching the Perseids:
- Find an area well away from city or street lights.
- Come prepared with a sleeping bag, blanket or lawn chair.
- Lie flat on your back with your feet facing northeast and look up, taking in as much of the sky as possible
- After about 30 minutes in the dark, your eyes will adapt and you will begin to see meteors.
- Be patient — the show will last until dawn, so you have plenty of time to catch a glimpse.
A less-early option for viewing the Perseids is to look in the sky at dusk when the moon is low in the east. Alan MacRobert of Sky & Telescope magazine says you may catch some “longer and graceful” meteors but not nearly as many as in the early morning hours.
- Perseid Meteor Shower: How to See August’s ‘Shooting Stars’ /Space.com
- Supermoon, Perseid Meteor Shower to Illuminate the Sky / Accuweather.com
- Perseids meteor shower and a super moon / USA Today
- Most “super” supermoon of 2014 on August 10 / EarthSky.org