You are here

Perseid Meteors

August 11, 2022

This is a bad time for a full Moon that’s especially big and bright. That’s because a meteor shower will reach its peak over the next couple of nights. But a full Moon overpowers all but the brightest meteors. And a Moon that’s especially close — making it especially bright — is an even bigger hindrance. It reduces the number of meteors you might see to just a handful — even if you’re far away from city lights.

The Perseid shower is one of the more reliable meteor showers. At its peak, it usually produces a dozen or two “shooting stars” per hour, and sometimes a lot more. This year, though, the showing should be much weaker — the result of the pesky full Moon.

The Moon will reach its “full” phase this evening — about 30 hours after it passed closest to Earth for the month — 223,587 miles away. That’s the Moon’s third-closest approach of the year — about 15,000 miles closer than average. At that range, the Moon shines several percent brighter than average.

Some describe such a close Moon as a super-Moon, but others don’t. That’s because there’s no formal definition for a super-Moon. For some, it’s the closest full Moon of the year. For others, it’s any full Moon within a certain distance — although different groups use different distances.

Super-Moon or not, this month’s full Moon will be close, big, and bright — and it’ll block out most of the Perseid meteor shower.

Script by Damond Benningfield

Get Premium Audio

Listen to today's episode of StarDate on the web the same day it airs in high-quality streaming audio without any extra ads or announcements. Choose a $8 one-month pass, or listen every day for a year for just $30.