Look up! Supermoon and stunning Perseid meteor shower overhead this week | The Sun

SKYGAZERS have not one but TWO celestial showcases to look forward to this week.

A Supermoon will rise on August 11 followed by a showering of shooting stars in the days that follow.


What is the Sturgeon Moon?

Each full moon has its own name that corresponds to the month in which it appears.

August's offering is named the Sturgeon Moon, and 2022's is an extra special one.

That's because it's a Supermoon, meaning it will appear slightly larger and brighter than usual.

A supermoon occurs when the moon's orbit is closest to Earth at the same time it is full.

This year's Sturgeon Moon peaks on August 11 but Earth's natural satellite will be brighter than usual a few days before and after that.

The name is said to have been coined by North American fishing tribes as the celestial event coincided with the appearance of sturgeon fish around this time of year.

What is the Perseid meteor shower?

The Perseid meteors typically begin to shine in the night sky in July and remain visible until mid-August.

The celestial light show peaks on August 11, but it's possible to see its bright fireballs before and after that.

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According to NASA, Perseid is widely considered to be the "best meteor shower of the year."

Perseid comes around each year as Earth crosses paths with debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle.

Swift-Tuttle is the largest near-Earth object to cross our planet's orbit, measuring a whopping 16 miles (26 km) across.

A typical Perseid meteor is said to travel at 133,200 mph. They burn up in Earth's atmosphere, appearing as bright streaks across the sky.

Almost none of the rocky bits of debris reach our planet's surface. When they do, they become meteorites.

How to watch Perseid Meteor Shower

To catch the meteors, your best bet is to put aside a bit of time this evening for a spot of stargazing.

Predawn hours are the best time to see them – that's anytime between midnight and sunrise.

The meteors appear to radiate from the tip of the Perseus constellation, hence their name.

However, you don't necessarily need to locate Perseus as the fireballs can appear anywhere in the night sky.

For the best views, go somewhere dark with limited light pollution and an uninterrupted view of the heavens.

You won't need a telescope or binoculars as it's better to have as broad a view of the sky as possible.

You'll need a clear weather forecast and up to an hour of free time to try and spot as many as possible.

Typically, the shower displays around 60 meteors an hour but you could see up to 100 at it's peak.

Stargazing apps

If you're unsure what you're looking at you could always download a stargazing smartphone app that pinpoints objects of interest.

Make sure you give your eyes a break from your phone afterwards though, as stargazing is best when your eyes have adjusted to the dark.

Stargazing apps for Android and iPhone include: SkyView Lite, Star Tracker and Star Walk 2.

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Keep in mind that some apps are free but others charge a small fee to download.

It's advisable to read the reviews of an app before downloading to ensure you get the best bang for your buck.


Find out more about science

Want to know more about the weird and wonderful world of science? From the Moon to the human body, we have you covered…

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