Sky gazers in Metro Vancouver are in for a rare astronomical event with a supermoon and meteor shower scheduled to take place at the same time between Saturday, August 9 and Sunday, August 10.
The extra-large full moon is the second of this year’s three supermoons, with the first being on July 12 and the last still to come on September 8.
Tonight’s full moon comes as the largest of the three dates and is technically the real supermoon. The moon will be at its closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit around the planet – a phenomenon called the ‘Perigee’ stage that happens with a full moon every 13.5 months. The other two full moons come very close to the maximum Perigee stage.
However, the moon will be fullest only after it disappears from the Vancouver horizon. The maximum Perigee stage is to occur late Sunday morning at 10:44 a.m., about 26 minutes before it becomes full to Earth. It will still appear big and bright on both Saturday and Sunday nights, hovering low above the horizon at a maximum altitude of 26°.
This full moon event will appear approximately 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than the usual full moons experienced throughout the year.
Tonight in Vancouver, the moon will rise at 7:42 p.m. and set at 6:02 a.m. On Sunday, the moon’s appearance in the sky will occur slightly later with moonrise at 8:20 p.m. and moonset at 7:23 a.m.
Meanwhile, the supermoon event also coincides with the annual Perseid Meteor Shower. It occurs from August 10 to 13 and is best viewed early Sunday morning at about 2 a.m.
It is considered as the best meteor shower of the year due to its very quick and bright meteors. The Perseid event leaves long “wakes” of light and colour and is one of the most frequent. Up to 100 meteors per hour are expected to streak across the night skies tonight.
While it is rare to have a celestial doubleheader, one will likely outshine the other. The effects of this weekend’s extra bright and large supermoon could make it difficult to see most of the meteors.
Weather is not anticipated to be an issue for the viewing of both phenomenons: the forecast calls for clear night skies until Tuesday.
‘Perigee’ events mean the moon could be as close as 356,500 kilometres away from Earth, while a moon in the ‘Apogee’ stage indicates the moon is at its farthest point away from the planet – as far away as 406,500 kilometres.
Featured Image: Katy Yu via Flickr