Bigger and brighter supermoon stuns stargazers worldwide
By News Desk
August 2, 2023 09:29 AM
Stargazers across the world were treated to a bigger and brighter full Moon than usual on Tuesday night while the rare ‘blue moon’ will be visible on August 30.
This month's full Moon, dubbed the Sturgeon Moon, lit up the night's sky as it rose above the horizon shortly after sunset. It's the first of two supermoons this month - the next full moon on August 30 will be called a Blue Moon as it will be the second full moon to appear in one calendar month.
What is a supermoon?
A perigean full moon, better known as a supermoon, happens when the moon is full during the closest point in its orbit around Earth. This gives its appearance an extra pop, making it look up to 8% bigger and 16% brighter than a typical full moon, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac.
According to NASA, the moon's typical orbit ranges between 226,000 and 251,000 miles from Earth, but variances can bring it a bit closer or farther away. Only the closest three or four approaches each year qualify as supermoons. The last one was on July 3.
Up first is the sturgeon supermoon
The sturgeon moon got its name from Native American tribes that found that the giant sturgeons from the Great Lakes were "most readily caught" at this time of the summer, according to Farmer's Almanac. It's also known as a green corn moon, grain moon, flying-up moon, harvest moon, ricing moon, black cherries moon and mountain shadow moon.
This spectacle hit peak illumination last night.
A sturgeon, for non-anglers, is an enormous fish with roots in the Jurassic Period that spends its life — up to 150 years — in both fresh and salt water. The white sturgeon is the largest freshwater fish in North America, reaching as long as 20 feet and nearly 2,000 pounds, according to the US Geological Survey. But most of the sturgeons inhabiting the Great Lakes measure about 6 feet in length and weigh approximately 200 pounds.
The second show is rare blue supermoon
While the term "supermoon" references the moon's orbit in relation to Earth, a blue moon has to do with frequency, referring to when there's a second full moon in a single calendar month, NASA says. "Blue moon" is also used to describe the third of four full moons in an astrological season.
The moon takes 27.3 days to orbit the Earth, but because of how the sun's light hits the satellite, it takes 29.5 days to complete its lunar cycle from one new moon to the next.
The term "once in a blue moon" is an idiom used to describe a rare but nonetheless recurring event. But according to NASA, blue moons aren't actually all that rare, recurring every two and a half years or so.
A blue supermoon, however, happens far less frequently. According to the website Time and Date, the last blue supermoon was in December 2009, and the next one won't be until August 2032.
This year's blue supermoon will peak at 9:36 p.m. ET on Aug. 30, Farmer's Almanac says, but you can use its moonrise calculator to see when the blue supermoon will be visible in your area.
The end-of-August supermoon will be the biggest and brightest of 2023 because the moon will be "exceptionally close" to Earth at 222,043 miles, according to Farmer's Almanac, nearly 17,000 miles closer than average.