The Annual Perseid Meteor Shower To Get One-Upped By The Moon

August 8, 2014

Aug. 8, 2014                                                 Matt Benjamin

          Beginning this Sunday morning and into early next week two unique celestial events will brighten up the night sky.

          Unfortunately one event, a super moon, which is 30 percent brighter than a regular full moon, will outshine the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, says Matt Benjamin, a planetary scientist and education program manager at CU-Boulder’s Fiske Planetarium.

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The Annual Perseid Meteor Shower To Get One-Upped By The Moon

Aug. 8, 2014                                                 Matt Benjamin

           Beginning this Sunday morning and into early next week two unique celestial events will brighten up the night sky.

           Unfortunately one event, a super moon, which is 30 percent brighter than a regular full moon, will outshine the annual Perseid Meteor Shower, says Matt Benjamin, a planetary scientist and education program manager at CU-Boulder’s Fiske Planetarium.

CUT 1 “Unfortunately when you have two great astronomical events sometimes they complement each other and sometimes they don’t really do each other a great service. (:09) The Perseid Meteor Shower happens really around the same time every year between August 9th and August 13th. It’s a phenomenal opportunity to see this yearly meteor shower. Timed with a super moon they don’t work so well. You need a really dark night to truly appreciate a good meteor shower and having a super moon and its extra brightness will interfere and work against having a good view of the meteor shower.” (:33)

            But Benjamin says that’s not to say that you won’t see any meteors; you just won’t see as many as you normally would. But he says there are a few things you can do to better your chances of seeing the fiery meteors streaking across the night sky.

CUT 2 “One the easiest things to avoid is city lights. Spend 20, 30 minutes driving out of town and get to a place where city lights are just not radiating and getting into the air.  And that allows you a much better chance to see meteors. (:14) Now, that’s something you can control. Now, unfortunately with the super moon you can’t get rid of the moon. But one way to help is to actually find a location that doesn’t give you a whole horizon-to-horizon perspective. Find a place where you got maybe some mountains or some canyons where you can use the canyons to block the moon.” (:31)

            The annual Perseid meteor shower happens when the Earth passes through the debris field of the Comet Swift Tuttle. As for the super moon, Benjamin says that happens when the moon will be at full perigee -- the point when it is closest to the Earth.

CUT 3 (:38) “Effectively what this is is just the moon being closer to Earth in its orbit. The moon’s orbit around the Earth is not perfectly circular. There are times, every year, where the moon is just a little bit closer to the Earth than it normally is and that’s what we have coming up this super moon where the moon is 30 percent brighter than it would normally be during a regular full moon. (:20) It will look bigger, it will feel brighter and it will be very odd late at night to see shadows being cast by this. So it’s an interesting time to go out at night and enjoy and bask in the moonlight, so to speak.” (:31)

            This also is a unique event, says Benjamin; something that happens only once every several decades.

CUT 4 “The timing with the meteor shower makes it extra unique and rare. So this is something that happens you know once every many decades.  (:07) So you might see this once of or twice in a lifetime. And so it is quite rare, quite unique.” (:12)

            Benjamin says, with some luck and a willingness to get up early, the best chance to see the showers will be early next week. That’s because while the moon will be full Aug. 10 at 12:09 a.m., the showers will peak in the wee hours before dawn Aug. 11-13, right after the moon’s brightness starts to fade.

-CU-

           

           

 

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