The last 'supermoon' of the year will brighten the night sky over Maine this week. Unfortunately the bright moon will hinder viewing one of the best meteor showers of the summer.
There's two standout spacey sights in the night sky this week. On Thursday, August 11, the final 'supermoon' of the year will rise. According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the full Sturgeon moon will reach peak illumination at 9:36 p.m. A 'supermoon' occurs when the moon's orbit reaches it's closest approaches to earth. From our perspective here on earth, it appears as if the moon is bigger and brighter.
The big, bright, moon will be a hinderance to skywatchers hoping to catch a glimpse of one the best meteor showers of the summer. The Perseids meteor shower is a reliable skywatching event, which often produces about one meteor per-minute. An eye catching addition to the storm of shooting stars is the bright fireballs it often produces.
According to Space.com, it's bad timing this year. The meteor shower is expected to peak August 11 and 12, the same night that the glowing supermoon will washout the night sky. In year's past, the meteor shower has produced 50-100 meteor per-hour. This year stargazers may see between 10 and 20 shooting stars per-hour.
We're not totally out of luck, however. The meteor shower has produced bright fireballs leading up to the peak, and about 10 days after.
Maine is a great place to see some of the best meteor showers of the year. It's not very hard to find dark areas away from light pollution to get a clear view of the night sky. We just need the overnight weather to cooperate with clear skies those peak nights.
After the Perseid shower, the next major meteor shower will be the Draconid meteor shower in October.