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It’s always a joy to look toward heaven, but this weekend will make it especially grand!  The largest Supermoon of 2014 and the Perseids Meteor Shower at the same time will be occurring!  Grab the mosquito spray and “get outside”!

Like all full moons, this month’s full moon on August 10 has many names. It’s the Sturgeon Moon in North America, harking back to bygone centuries when this large fish roamed plentifully in the Great Lakes and Hudson Bay. The August full moon is also known as the Green Corn Moon or the Grain Moon. In 2014, the August 10 full moon also gives us this year’s closest supermoon. According to NASA, this full moon will be 14% closer and 30% brighter than other full moons of the year.

As measured from the centers of the Earth and moon, the August 10 full moon lies 356,896 kilometers (221,675 miles) away. The moon and Earth won’t make such a close encounter again until the full moon of September 28, 2015, at which time the two will only be 19 kilometers closer together.

At United States’ time zones, the moon will turn full on August 10 at 2:09 p.m. EDT, 1:09 p.m. CDT, 12:09 p.m. MDT and 11:09 a.m. PDT.

perseid-mapAugust 10 also brings the start of the “Old Faithful” of meteor showers, the Perseids.

The prolific Perseids show up once a year, in August, filling the night sky with as many as 80 shooting stars an hour. 

Super moons bring with them 30% more light. That’s a problem as it makes the meteors less visible.

Still, the two events together make this a good few days to spend some time outside at night.

The shower’s peak will come in the hours before dawn Aug. 11-13, Burress says.

Look in the constellation Perseus, which is just to the left of the Pleiades, the Seven Sisters constellation, in the northeastern portion of the sky.

Normally, a bright moon would dim the visibility of meteors, but the Perseids have bright meteors, so “it’s not a complete washout,” Burress says. “But it won’t be nearly as good as it would if the moon wasn’t up.”

Another option is to look as night falls, when the moon is low in the east, according to Alan MacRobert, senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine.

la-sci-sn-perseid-meteor-shower-peaks-this-wee-001If you’re lucky, you might see some Earth-grazing Perseids. These are unusually long and graceful meteors, less frequent but quite lovely.

This year’s Perseid shower won’t be the wild, showy 80 meteors per hour that can happen when they arrive during moonless nights. Even so, a shooting star or two reminds us that looking heavenward is always rewarding.

And if you don’t see a meteor, you’ll still get to see a super moon.