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12th Aug 2022

Irish people could be treated to spectacular sights in the sky over the next few nights

Stephen Porzio

People have the chance to see a supermoon, a planet and a meteor shower.

The next few nights are set to be exciting for astronomers as a number of major events are due to take place in the sky.

One of these is the fourth and final supermoon of 2022, with another not due until July next year.

“The moon goes around the Earth in a slightly egg-shaped orbit and at some point, it’s a bit closer to us… 15% closer than at other times,” Editor of Astronomy Ireland Magazine David Moore told JOE on Thursday (11 August).

“That makes it look 30% brighter than when it’s at its furthest.

“Technically, the moon is full tomorrow morning. That means tonight when it rises and on tomorrow night, it will be very good.

“The human eye won’t be able to tell the moon isn’t full tomorrow night or even on Saturday night so people can have a look three nights in a row.”

On top of a supermoon, those looking to the skies may also get to spot a distant planet as well.

“It just so happens tonight and tomorrow night, the moon is near Saturn,” Moore explained.

“Tonight you’ll see Saturn to the upper left of the moon. Tomorrow night, you’ll see it to the upper right of the moon.

“It will look just like a bright star [but on] a telescope, it will show it’s actually got rings unlike any real star.”

Even more impressive, people may also have an opportunity to witness a shooting star over the next few days.

“There’s a big meteor shower coming as well – Perseid meteor shower, one of the best of the year,” Moore said.

“It peaks tomorrow night. You’ll get about 20 times more meteors, shooting stars as their popularly known, then normal tomorrow night.

“And in fact, the rates won’t be bad tonight and the night after, so another thing to watch Thursday, Friday and Saturday”.

Moore stated that people could not have asked for better conditions to enjoy the sights given the dry and clear weather forecasted for the next few days.

This is particularly as three out of every four nights in Ireland are cloudy.

In terms of trying to catch a peek at the supermoon, Moore says the best time to do it is when the moon is rising.

“There’s a thing called moon illusion… it’s an optical illusion. It can make the moon look much bigger than it really is,” he explained.

“Given the moon already actually is bigger than normal, add in the optical illusion and at moon rise, you could be in for a really spectacular sight.

“If you got a clear horizon, you can get that moon illusion. So, go to your nearest park or [if your] overlooking the sea, that’d be great.

“But… if you don’t, if you’re stuck even in an apartment block, at some stage during the night, you’ll see the moon.”