August 9, 2014 at 10:48 PM
RANDOLPH, NJ - The best "supermoon" of the year will light up the night sky on August 10, and with its closet proximity to Earth in over twenty years, it will be 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter. In addition to the supermoon, the annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to be visible.
According to Wikipedia, a supermoon is described as "the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth. The technical name is the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system."
A perigee is "the point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite at which it is nearest to the earth" and a syzgy is "the nearly straight-line configuration or alignment of three celestial bodies" like the Sun, the Earth, and the Moon. A new moon syzygy appears when the Moon moves between the Sun and the Earth (Sun-Moon-Earth), and a full moon syzygy when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun. A supermoon is a full moon syzygy.
Stardate.org defines a meteor shower as "a spike in the number of meteors or "shooting stars" that streak through the night sky."
They go on to explain, "Most meteor showers are spawned by comets. As a comet orbits the Sun it sheds an icy, dusty debris stream along its orbit. If Earth travels through this stream, we will see a meteor shower. Although the meteors can appear anywhere in the sky, if you trace their paths, the meteors in each shower appear to "rain" into the sky from the same region."
Time and Date.com notes "The 2014 Perseid meteor shower will peak between August 10 and August 13. A waning Gibbous Moon (the Moon's phase after a full moon) may make it harder for observers to see the shower. Despite this, astronomers suggest that observers try their luck to catch some Perseids before dawn on August 11, 12 and 13."
In addition to the August 10 supermoon, another is expected to occur on September 9. The first of this summer's trio occurred on July 12.
Scientists say that northern Scotland will provide the best views of the supermoon. Higher tides are expected in Britain but scientists do not expect any flooding.