Science

A full moon in August could eclipse this year’s Perseid meteor shower, says a NASA astronomer.

The Perseid meteor shower, one of the most anticipated and popular night sky shows of the year, is likely to be upstaged by the August full moon.

The Perseids are one of the strongest meteor showers, occurring annually from July 14 to September 1. This year, the meteor shower peaks in August. 12 and 13, which just conflict with the full moon, the bright light of which makes it difficult to see meteors flying across the night sky.

“Unfortunately, Perseid Peak will face some of the worst conditions for observers this year,” said Bill Cook, a NASA astronomer who heads the Meteorological Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. (will open in a new tab). “Most of us in North America usually see 50 or 60 meteors per hour, but this year, during the normal peak, the full moon will reduce this number to 10-20 per hour at best.”

On the subject: Perseid meteor shower 2022: when, where and how to see it

The August Full Moon, also known as the Sturgeon Moon, will be at its brightest in August. January 11 at 9:35 pm EST (01:01 GMT) and will be almost full the day before and the night after its peak. This is the last of this year’s supermoons, when the full moon coincides with the Moon’s closest approach to the Earth in its orbit. This means that the Sturgeon Moon will appear slightly brighter than a regular full moon.

“The moon is so much brighter than anything else in the night sky and will wash away all but the brightest Perseids as they streak through our atmosphere and burn high overhead,” NASA said in a statement.

The Perseids are caused by the Earth passing through debris or pieces of ice and rock left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle, which last passed close to Earth in 1992. Comet Swift-Tuttle orbits our Sun every 133 years and won’t pass our path again until 2125.

About 16 miles (26 kilometers) wide, Comet Swift-Tuttle is the largest object known to have repeatedly passed Earth. Observations of the Perseid meteor shower date back to medieval Europe, when this annual event was known as the “Tears of St. Lawrence” after the last of the seven deacons of the Roman church who were martyred by Emperor Valerian in August 258. , according to a NASA statement.

However, it was not until 1862 that two independent astronomers, Lewis Swift and Horace Tuttle, discovered the comet. Thus, “how far Perseid observations actually go remains a matter of controversy,” Cooke said in a statement.

The Perseids will begin to slow down around August. 21-22 and will completely stop by September 1st. While it probably won’t be the best year to see the Perseid Peak, there is still a chance to catch some shooting stars in the days leading up to or after August. 12. Try to find a dark place to observe away from artificial light between midnight and dawn to better observe meteors. And, if you miss the opportunity to see the Perseids, there are still a few chances to catch other meteor showers later in August when the moonlight isn’t in the way as much.

Follow Samantha Mathewson on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13 (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or on facebook (will open in a new tab).

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