Saturday 22 November 2014

Supermoon and shooting stars to light up the night

Michael Staines

Published 09/08/2014 | 02:30

Aircraft passes in front of a Supermoon rising over the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada
Aircraft passes in front of a Supermoon rising over the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada

ASTRONOMY buffs will be looking to the heavens this weekend as Irish skies are lit up by hundreds of shooting stars and the biggest, brightest 'supermoon' of the 
year.

The 'Perseids' meteor shower, visible from mid-July until August, is one of the astronomical events of the year.

The shower is caused by falling debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet and each year as fragments of the comet crash into the Earth's atmosphere they burn up, creating shooting stars in the night sky.

David Moore, editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine, said that the average fragment is about the size of a grain of sand and is roughly 100 miles away. At their peak, the Perseids will bring about 20 times more shooting stars to the sky than normal.

However, this year the show will be hampered somewhat by another celestial phenomenon -the supermoon.

A supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with the point on the moon's orbit when it is closest to the Earth.

The phenomenon is due at 1:38am on Monday morning when the moon will appear 14pc larger in the sky and could reflect 30pc more light - both good and bad news for astronomers, as the light will swamp out some of the fainter shooting stars.

Irish Independent

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