Get ready for a ‘supermoon’ on Monday 11 August. The supermoon is a rare sight that doesn’t happen very often but when it does you’ll want to make sure you’re outside of your house and ready to check out just how breathtakingly beautiful it looks in the night sky.
A ‘Super Moon’ occurs at the time in the moon’s orbit when it’s closest to Earth. Not only will the moon be full, it will also look slightly larger and much brighter when rising early evening . If you’re going fishing watch for ‘King Tides.’ This will be the closest full moon of 2014!
Now, this week’s coming Supermoon will face off against everyone’s favourite meteor shower, the Perseids, and the outcome could be spectacular. People are already seeing fireballs which peaks overnight on August 12th and early dawn August 13. Look eastward anytime after midnight from any part of Australia.
Generally, this is a good shower for beginners with estimates of dozens of meteors per hour. As with all showers, the best time for viewing will be from around 3am until an hour before sunrise.
Download the ‘Fireballs in the Sky’ app now. Developers have created an easy to use app for iOS and Android users. As well as reporting detailed meteor sightings, the app also keeps you up to date with the latest images, news and announcements from the Desert Fireball Network project. www.fireballsinthesky.com.au
Meteor showers originate from leftover fragments of comets and asteroids. Comets that travel through the sun leave dust behind, and when the Earth passes through that debris, those remnants clash with the atmosphere, disintegrate, and generate colourful, sparkling streaks.
I bet you didn’t know space rocks, or meteorites, could burn. Well, they can and they do! Police, emergency services and radio stations always get phone calls from people thinking they were distress flares being shot into the sky or returning space junk that might hit their house.
The rocks often appear as green lights as they burn heading towards earth. They come in at between 30 and 60 kilometres a second. Just think about that! No wonder they burn, the friction sets them ablaze and we see them streak across the night sky. Don’t forget the name, they’re called ‘fireballs,’ not meteors which are much smaller.
What exactly are meteor showers? Well, they’re basically the tail ends of comets. As comets orbit the Sun, they shed an icy, dusty debris stream along the comet’s orbit. If Earth travels through this stream, we will see a meteor shower.
Meteorites look pretty when they fall but you know, there’s money in space rocks. Many stony iron meteorites contain extremely valuable Platinum group metals with grades 10 to 20 times higher than available here on Earth!
The resources of the solar system are essentially infinite, and they’re just waiting for us to use. Heck, we just found an exoplanet that may be half diamond but for now it’s back down to earth. Want some free stuff? Head on over to my website www.davidreneke.com and download a whole range of fact sheets and free e-books on astronomy.
David Reneke is an astronomy writer, lecturer, broadcaster and media personality. Get David’s free astronomy newsletter and a free 323 page e-book called ‘The Complete Idiots Guide To Astronomy. Visit the webpage: www.davidreneke.com