The Perseid Meteor Shower will reach its peak tonight (August 12) but those looking to photograph this annual celestial event will have to contend with a very bright supermoon known as a Sturgeon Moon.
The Perseid Meteor shower is one of the strongest and most visible meteor showers that takes place from mid-July into September, but reaches its visible peak tonight, August 12, and into the morning of August 13. This peak time means that, typically, upwards of 100 “shooting stars” will be visible per hour.
This year, this event has some overwhelming celestial competition: a Sturgeon Moon. A Sturgeon Moon refers to a supermoon, the name for when the Moon is full while also being at the closest point to Earth in its orbit. As a result, it appears abnormally large and bright in the night sky. It is called a Sturgeon Moon because the giant sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were easiest to catch during this part of the year, historically. Sadly, these fish are much rarer today due to overfishing, pollution, and damage to their habitat.
“Sadly, this year’s Perseids peak will see the worst possible circumstances for spotters,” NASA astronomer Bill Cooke, who leads the Meteoroid Environment Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, says.