(Featured image from REUTERS/Ali Jarekji REUTERS/filepic)
Last week, The Sun Daily reported that in the second week of August, the biggest and clearest full moon (a dramatic lunar phenomenon called the “supermoon”) for this year will occur. And not just occur, it will happen simultaneously with the Perseid meteor shower that will give a spectacular sight in the sky.
According to the National Space Agency (Angkasa), the “supermoon” phenomenon happens when the moon is at the nearest position to the earth, at 14% nearer and 30% clearer compared to other nights. It took place on 11th August (Monday) at 2:09am, a little after the moon was at a distance of 356,896km. If you missed it, here’s how it was supposed to go down:
Also, if you missed it, fret not!
Malaysians will have the opportunity to witness what happens alongside the “supermoon” phenomenon, the Perseid meteor showers. Perseid meteor showers occur when the Swift Tuttle comet passes through the solar system every 133 years and leaves behind a dust trail. According to Angkasa, the best time to witness the occurrence is after midnight until dawn in the northeast direction.
Spacedex has more detailed instructions for the meteor showers gazing, which states that the best time to observe is between 11pm (Tuesday, 12th August) to 4:30am (Wednesday, 13th August). They’ve also stated the following:
On average, under completely clear skies, and in complete darkness, observers may witness 50 to 80 meteors per hour; but these rates can exceed up to 120 meteors per hour in rural locations. Be aware that local conditions such as light pollution, cloud cover, and precipitation will also play a major role in the number of meteors you are likely to see.
For the best viewing experience, find an area unobstructed by a structure that is far away from city lights. Using optical devices such as binoculars or telescopes is not recommended, as your field of view will be greatly restricted, thus making the possibility of missing a “shooting star” more likely.
Once you have settled down at your observation spot, face half-way up toward the northeastern portion of the sky. Looking northeast, you will have the constellation of Perseus, the radiant of the Perseids shower, within your field of view. Not coincidentally, the Perseids meteor shower is named after the constellation Perseus for the reason that they appear to originate from the sparkling Greek “hero.”
Looking directly up at the sky or into the radiant is not recommended since this is just the point in which they appear to come from. You are more likely to see a trail when looking slightly away from this point. Looking half-way up into the sky will lead to the best show in the house.
And in case you don’t want to have a staring contest with the sky from 11am until 4:30am, Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) Astronomy Club academic adviser Assoc Prof Dr Chong Hon Yew confirmed that the Perseid meteor shower over Malaysian skies will occur at 3:30am (13th August, Wednesday).
Keep in mind that although the showers can produce many fire balls that have similar brightness like the planets and while expected rates in Malaysia may be high, several factors may interfere e.g. weather, haze, clouds’ conditions. Fingers crossed we’ll get to see it!
Be right back, preparing about a thousand wishes.