Last night’s full moon is one dubbed “supermoon” which is fun but unfortunately it coincides with the annual Perseid meteor shower. They peak around August 11-13 and that just-past-full supermoon’s light will overwhelm the shooting stars.

I’ll still look up tonight and the next few nights for the Perseids. They occur every August when Earth passes through the stream of cosmic dust and bits left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle.

If viewing conditions are optimal, you can see lots of meteors in the course of an hour. This year, maybe just a few of the brightest fireballs.

My best view was in the woods of Maine years ago with my very young sons. That experience as a kid makes “wonderful” really something that is full of wonder. Still works on me after a lot of years.

perseid-map

I start looking after sunset, when the moon is still low, or just before sunrise, when the moon has shifted over to the west.

Some people recommend that you stand in a “moonshadow” – a place where the moon is hidden from your sight. (Not required, but feel free to hum the Cat Stevens song while you watch.)

I’ll be too close to city lights for optimal viewing.

If you want to add some technology, you can check this year’s Perseid forecast from NASA or go online and watch the meteors online (at Slooh) starting at 7 p.m. ET Tuesday. They have a nice view from the Institute of Astrophysics in the Canary Islands. That sounds like a nice place to lie back on the beach and watch.

We will have more meteor opportunities with the Orionids in October or the Leonids in November. As much as I love our Moon, it won’t get as much in the way for those dates.

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