A great week of astronomical events in Alabama’s night sky
Mid-August brings a supermoon, the Perseids and a great viewing of Saturn
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Calling all astronomy fans! It’s time to circle some dates on your calendar because a trio of night sky events will occur over the next week. They are a supermoon, a meteor shower and a planet making its closest approach to Earth of 2022.
The supermoon and the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower both occur on the night of August 11th.
That is both good and not so good.
It’s good because you will be able to see two great astronomy events in one night. It’s bad because the brightness of the supermoon will wash out many of the meteors you would otherwise see.
A few days later Saturn will be at opposition, meaning it will be at its closest approach to Earth this year.
AUGUST’S FULL MOON
The full moon this month will be the fourth and final supermoon of 2022. Referred to as the Sturgeon Moon, August’s full moon will coincide with the moon’s closest approach to Earth in its orbit; this is known as perigee.
The result will be a slightly larger-than-usual apparent size of the moon as viewed from here on Earth.
This will occur at 8:36 p.m. on Thursday, August 11th. However, the moon will be full all night long.
PERSEID METEOR SHOWER PEAKING
The Perseids are one of the two best meteor showers most years. The shower is known for producing 60+ meteors per hour. It’s also known for producing a good number of particularly bright meteors.
Unfortunately the shower will peak the same night of the supermoon. The result will be only about 10-20 meteors per hour.
That may seem underwhelming, but getting to see a supermoon and shooting stars at the same time sounds pretty cool. In order to maximize the potential of the Perseids you should head to a dark place away from light pollution and allow 30 minutes to adjust to the darkness before looking up.
The best timing of this year’s Perseids will be 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. this Friday, August 12th.
SATURN AT OPPOSITION
On the night of August 14th Saturn will be at its closest point to Earth of 2022 as it sits opposite the sun in our sky. Near opposition Saturn will rise in the east at sunset and be visible all night long.
Beyond the date of opposition the ringed planet will be visible during the evenings through January of 2023.
Opposition is when the planet will shine the brightest all year. It will be visible to the naked eye, but a telescope will allow you to get a great view of Saturn’s beautiful rings.
The next opportunity to experience Saturn at opposition will be August 27th of 2023 -- roughly 378 days from this year’s time of opposition.
SHARE YOUR PHOTOS
If you snap any photos or videos of of these events -- or any astronomical event for that matter -- we would love to see them! Share them with me on social media, or submit them at wsfa.com/submit.
Even if it’s simply a question or comment regarding an astronomical event, I would love to hear from you!
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