Perseid Meteor Shower and Supermoon

8/13/2014 01:35:00 AM

Supermoon. Image via
Perseid meteor shower. Image via
Astronomers and sky-watchers were all excitedly waiting for the annual Perseid meteor shower which occurred on the second week of August this year. Adding icing to the cake, the Perseid meteor shower also coincided with the perigee moon or simply known as Supermoon this year!

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Every 133 years, the comet Swift-Tuttle will pass through the inner solar system, leaving behind a steam of debris. While most of the particles have been part of the cloud for nearly a century, there is also an addition of relatively young debris in the stream that was pulled off the comet back in 1865, which can give an early mini-peak on the day before its peak When Earth passes through its pathway, the debris hits the atmosphere at a whooping speed of 140,000 mph and burn up in flashes of light, creating the Perseid. The Perseid gets it name due to the point from which the meteor shower appears to come, called the radiant, which lies in the constellation Perseus. Besides, the name originates from the word Perseides  (Περσείδες), term found in Greek methodology which refers to the sons of Perseus.

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Supermoon, on the other hand, occurs when the moon reaches its orbit that is closest to the Earth, known as perigee. The perigee moon would be up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full moons during the year. In fact ,supermoons occur quite often, with every 13 months and 18 days. Nonetheless, they are not always noticed due to poor weather during the occurence. For those who had missed the opportunity to watch the supermoon few days ago, fret not as the next supermoon is expected to appear on 9th of September 2014.

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Hence, it is inevitable that the moonlight would swipe the black, velvety background which is the ideal environment to watch the faint glows of the Perseid meteor showers. Nonetheless, the effect can be reduced by few methods. One of the methods is by facing away from the moon during meteor shower gazing. In, addition, find a setting where the view of the moon is blocked.

Some of the useful tips for watching meteor showers are:
  • Binoculars and telescopes are not necessary for enjoying the breath-taking meteor showers. The human eyes are the ideal device as the fireballs will cover large part of the sky.
  • Human eyes require at least 15 to 20 minutes to adapt to the darkness of the night. 
  • Find a dark (the darker the better) location, ideally away from city lights, in order to get the best view of the faint lights.
  • The most perfect time to view the showers is between midnight and predawn hours.
  • All it takes to capture a snapshot of the shooting stars is a tripod-mounted DSLR camera that is able to take exposures of 15 seconds or more with a as wide a lens as possible and use an ISO 400 setting in order to capture the fainter meteors, not to mention settind a remote timer to eliminate any shaking of the camera.

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