Supermoon vs. Perseids: A Battle for the Sunday Night Sky

August 11, 2014 at 6:00 AM

MONTCLAIR, NJ – There were two phenomenal reasons to look toward the sky Sunday night. The Aug. 10 supermoon and the Perseids meteor shower occurred at the same time, which were reasons enough for even the novice spectator to be intrigued. The astronomical phenomena will not occur so closely together again until 2034. 

Sunday night's moon was noted as the closest and brightest moon of 2014 reports NASA officials. Astrologists have coined the term "supermoon," which can occur when a full moon approaches the earth on its elliptical orbit closely. This close proximity causes the moon to appear larger than usual as seen from the earth. 

The term supermoon is a new-age term that was first coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979. However, many astronomers refer to it by its technical term, “perigee moon."  According to NASA, a supermoon is up to 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a regular full moon at its farthest point from the earth.  When a moon is farthest away from the earth, that is called apogee.  The moon circulates the earth in an elliptical orbit or oval manner, which means there is a closest point, perigee, and a farthest point, apogee.  The moon is around 222,000 miles from Earth at perigee and around 252,657 miles away at apogee. 

Sign Up for E-News

The illusion of the Moon growing in size during the perigee phenomenon is not yet fully understood by astronomers and occurs about every 411 days.  Astronomists note that approximately every 14th full Moon will be a supermoon with as many as three supermoons per full moon cycle, which explains why each of the 3 full Moons of the summer of 2014 are all supermoons.  

The the first supermoon of the summer of 2014 had taken place on July 12, while the second and brightest took place on Aug. 10 and the third supermoon is set to occur on September 9.  

This sequence is not a rare occurrence says Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory.  "Generally speaking, full Moons occur near perigee every 13 months and 18 days, so it's not all that unusual," he says. 

What is rare and unusual, however, is the supermoon and the Perseids occurring at the same time.


Occurring between August 10 and August 13, spectators will be able to catch a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower.  As people gazed upon the supermoon on Sunday night, the brightness of the full moon played a factor in whether or not spectators could catch a glimpse of the Perseid meteor shower.

The Perseids are noted as the best meteor shower of the year because it averages a significant amount of meteors per hour with an abundance of fireballs, which are fast meteors that burn bright in the night sky. Although the supermoon brightened the night sky, thus blocking out many of the dimmer meteors, the Perseids average around 30 to 40 meteors at best and spectators could catch a glimple if they looked closely.

Tony Markham, director of the Society for Popular Astronomy's meteor section offered tips to spectators.

"The Perseids are rich and bright meteors and so many Perseids will still be seen despite the moonlit sky background," he wrote on the SPA's website. "You can minimise the effect of the moonlight by observing with your back to the moon... If possible, keep the moon hidden behind trees or a nearby building."

He added that during this time of year, the moon is relatively close to the horizon, thus leaving much of the sky dark. Markham further suggested looking at an area of sky 20 to 30 degrees away from the Perseid radiant which is the spot near the constellation of Perseus that the meteors appear to fly out from.

The Perseids occur every August when the comet Swift-Tuttle, on its 133 year orbit, swings through the inner solar system, leaving behind a trail of dust.  When the Earth passes through, the dust cloud particles then hit the atmosphere at 140,000mph and burn up in streaking flashes of light, creating the spectacle known as the Perseids. 

The best time to see the meteors is between Saturday and Wednesday, with activity peaking on Tuesday, August 12.

The next supermoon will take place on September 9.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

TAP Into Another Town's News:

Sign Up for E-News

Berkeley Heights

Nicholas J. Dimakos to Speak on Handling Contested Guardianships

January 17, 2017

Nicholas J. Dimakos, an Associate of Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A., will speak on the role of the court-appointed attorney at “Handling Contested Guardianships.”  Sponsored by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education (NJICLE) in cooperation with the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA) Real Property, Trust & Estate Law Section and the NJSBA Senior ...

Paralympic wheelchair Fencing Is Topic At Berkeley Heights Rotary Club Meeting

Grown from a small gathering of British World War II veterans in 1948, the Paralympic Games is a major international multi-sport event involving athletes with a range of disabilities, including impaired muscle power, range of movement, limb deficiency, and even vision impairment. One of the most exciting Paralympic sport is Wheelchair Fencing.

At the Rotary's next lunch-time meeting, ...

Bottle & Bottega Celebrates Month of Giving Success

BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ –Bottle & Bottega is celebrating its success in motivating local residents and their guests to help make this holiday season a little brighter for the less fortunate.

Throughout November, the paint-and-sip studio held its Month of Giving event, an annual food drive to benefit The Good Shepherd Mission, a nonprofit a rehabilitation center and housing ...

Union County Freeholder Angel Estrada Honored for Service on Transportation Planning Board

Freeholder and Elizabeth resident Angel Estrada was recognized for his ongoing service on the Board of Trustees of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority (NJTPA) at the agency’s annual meeting in Newark, Jan. 9.

Estrada has been instrumental in several infrastructure projects throughout the county, including ones in his hometown. With Freeholder Estrada’s support, the ...

Thank You Westfield!

January 14, 2017

Almost five years ago Imagine, A Center for Coping with Loss, opened its doors in Westfield, thanks to the vision and generosity of Dr. Gerald Glasser and the leadership of Keith Hertell, our first board chair, and all the other founding board members.  We opened our doors on the  third floor of the First United Methodist Church and started our program.

Since then we have served over ...

Union County Clerk Recognized for Tech Achievement

January 14, 2017

UNION COUNTY, NJ -- Union County Clerk Joanne Rajoppi was nationally recognized for her leadership in the use of electronic recording technology.

Rajoppi was presented with the national 2016 eRecording All-Star Trailblazer Award, a competitive recognition sponsored by the global business solutions company Corporation Service Company. The Trailblazer award recognizes a recording office that has ...

Ciattarelli Announces Successful Throat Cancer Surgery, Scales Back Gubernatorial Campaign Temporarily

January 15, 2017

TRENTON, NJ - State Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, R-16th, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, announced yesterday that he had undergone successful surgery for throat cancer in November, and will be curtailing his campaign schedule temporarily.

Gearing up for a primary campaign against several other Republicans who want to run for New Jersey, Ciattarelli, a Hillsborough ...

It’s Go Time.

This one goes out to all the juniors out there. 

I can feel you squirming in your seats, “Who me?” Yes, you!  The time has come to turn that college dial up a notch.  “But I still have so much time left!”  But you really don’t.  Ideally in a year from now you’ll be sifting through acceptance letters and weighing college options ...

Mayor's Round Table on the Road with the Rotary Club of Berkeley Heights: Volunteerism Makes a Difference in the Community

GILLETTE, NJ - Mayor's Round Table is a monthly show hosted by Dr. Donald DeFabio, who sits with Mayor Robert Woodruff to talk about current issues that affect the township as well as answer questions submitted by citizens. This month, the Mayor's Round Table went on location and were guests of the Rotary Club of Berkeley Heights on Dec. 16 at Chimney Rock Inn in ...

Ciattarelli Announces Successful Throat Cancer Surgery, Scales Back Gubernatorial Campaign Temporarily

January 15, 2017

TRENTON, NJ - State Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, R-16th, a candidate for the Republican nomination for governor, announced yesterday that he had undergone successful surgery for throat cancer in November, and will be curtailing his campaign schedule temporarily.

Gearing up for a primary campaign against several other Republicans who want to run for New Jersey, Ciattarelli, a Hillsborough ...

Union County Democrats Endorse Joe Cryan for State Senate

CLARK, NJ  – Union County Democratic Chairman Jerry Green, Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, 20th Legislative District Assembly members Annette Quijano and Jamel Holley, and the Democratic Municipal Chairmen from the  district today issued their support of Union County Sheriff Joseph Cryan for State Senate.  Their support follows press reports that long-time State ...

Back Pain & Sciatica: Fix it Forever

Back pain is the second reason after the common cold for visits to the doctor: 80 % of the American public has back pain of sufficient intensity to seek care and treatment. Sciatica, pain shooting down the leg, is often related to back pain and is successfully treated with non-surgical and natural treatment.

Before any treatment can begin for your back and leg pain an accurate diagnosis and ...

Upcoming Events


Tue, January 17, 7:30 AM

Apa Hotel Woodbridge, Iselin

ACG Breakfast Meeting January 17, 2017

Business & Finance Food & Drink


Tue, January 17, 12:30 PM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Advanced Beginner Weekly Bridge Lessons

Arts & Entertainment


Tue, January 17, 3:00 PM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Afterschool Sports For Middle Schoolers



Tue, January 17, 4:00 PM

Summit YMCA, Summit

Teen Yoga

Health & Wellness


Tue, January 17, 4:30 PM

Berkeley Heights YMCA, Berkeley Heights

Intergenerational Mentoring Program

Education Giving Back


Wed, January 18, 11:00 AM

Summit Public Library , Summit

Citizenship Study Group Practice for the Test

Education Government