The moon will be closest to the Earth on Sunday, Aug. 10, making it appear larger and brighter than normal. This supermoon will occur at 2:09 p.m. EDT, but will still be close enough to the Earth so that its full effect is still noticeable after sunset.
This is the closest the moon has come to the Earth this year: it will only be 221,765 miles away, which is 30,000 miles closer than when the moon is at its farthest from us. The supermoon occurs because of the moon's egg-shaped orbit: when it reaches what's called the perigree of its orbit, it is closest to us.
This particular supermoon is actually the second of three supermoons this summer, but it will be the largest of the three.
The perigree, or supermoon, occurs approximately every 13 months, so it's really not that rare of an event. However, this weekend the perigree's timing is perfect for optimal viewing. Unfortunately, you might not even notice that it's bigger than previous supermoons that have been a few hundred miles farther away because the human eye really can't detect such a small difference in distance.
The best time to view the supermoon will be just after sunset on Sunday as it rises above the horizon. This creates the illusion of an even bigger moon, making this the best time to take photographs.
Unfortunately, the supermoon is stealing the spotlight from another celestial event: the Perseid meteor showers. Because the moon will be so bright, it might be more difficult to see the showers of up to 100 meteors per hour. And those showers are much rarer than the supermoon: the Perseids only pass by Earth once every 133 years.
"This is bad news for the Perseids," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "Lunar glare wipes out the black-velvety backdrop required to see faint meteors, and sharply reduces counts."
However, for those wishing to catch this extraordinary light show, NASA does have some tips. First, get away from cities and find a clear unhindered view of the sky. When looking up, find the darkest patch of sky. The agency also recommends wearing appropriate clothing for the weather, as well as having a comfortable place to sit or lie.
Also, don't bring a telescope or binoculars because that reduces the amount of sky you see at any given time. Finally, turn off your cellphone's display and other light sources. If you need to use light, use red light, which doesn't destroy your night vision.