For enthusiastic skywatchers anticipating a captivating view, precise timing is of the essence on August 30th.
The upcoming full moon is poised to grace the heavens on Wednesday, August 30th, promising to be one of the most radiant and substantial moons of the year 2023.
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It’s crucial to clarify that the term “Blue Moon” doesn’t allude to color. Since the 1940s, it has denoted the second of two full moons occurring within a single calendar month. Thus, the full moon scheduled for Wednesday earns its “Blue Moon” distinction as the second full moon in August. Just like the initial full moon of August, known as the Sturgeon Moon on August 1st, this Blue Moon is also set to be a supermoon. This designation implies that it will manifest during a phase when the moon is in proximity to Earth, causing it to appear noticeably larger in the nocturnal sky.
When Can We Expect the Super Blue Moon of 2023?
As outlined by experts in celestial phenomena, the Super Blue Moon is set to rise shortly after sunset, precisely at 7:10 p.m. EDT (2310 GMT) on Wednesday, emerging from the eastern horizon. However, this won’t be the peak of its size and luminosity. The exact moment of the full moon, defined as when it is directly opposite the sun in Earth’s firmament, at a 180-degree angle, is anticipated at 9:36 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, August 30th (or 0336 on August 31st), as corroborated by NASA. During this juncture, the moon will grace the constellation of Aquarius. Subsequently, the Blue Moon will gracefully descend on Thursday, just preceding sunrise, at approximately 6:46 a.m. EDT (1046 GMT).
Revealing the Marvel of the Super Blue Moon
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As elucidated earlier, the term “Blue Moon” typically designates the second full moon in a singular calendar month (though it technically signifies the third full moon within a season encompassing four full moons). A year generally hosts around 12.4 full moons, leading to an intriguing phenomenon where approximately every 2.8 years, a span of 12 months accommodates 13 full moons. Thus, one of these months accommodates the occurrence of two full moons, thus earning the title of a Blue Moon.
It’s important to note that not all Blue Moons qualify as supermoons, unlike the one anticipated on August 30th. The emergence of a supermoon corresponds to a full moon coinciding with its proximity to Earth. This phenomenon arises due to the moon’s elliptical orbit around our planet, which deviates from a perfect circle. Consequently, there are periods when the moon is closer (perigee) or farther away (apogee) from Earth. The distance between Earth and the moon during perigee and apogee ranges from approximately 220,000 to 253,000 miles (350,000 to 408,000 kilometers), resulting in a variation of about 14%.
Despite this variation in Earth-moon distance, the observable difference in the moon’s appearance during a regular full moon versus a supermoon is not significant to the naked eye. While a supermoon may appear slightly larger and brighter, this distinction remains imperceptible to most observers, except for seasoned skywatchers with extensive experience in moon observation.
Counting Down to the Next Super Blue Moon
The alignment of a Blue Moon with a supermoon is notably rarer than instances of standalone supermoons or Blue Moons. Although a super blue moon could theoretically occur twice within a single month, these occurrences might also be separated by periods as extensive as two decades, according to NASA’s analysis. On average, the interval between Super Blue Moons is approximately 10 years.
Following the impending Super Blue Moon on August 30th, 2023, subsequent occurrences are projected for January and March of 2037, as predicted by NASA.
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Anticipating the Next Supermoon
Although it won’t carry the Super Blue Moon title, sky enthusiasts can still anticipate another supermoon in 2023. The Full Corn Moon in September, scheduled for September 29th, will mark the fourth consecutive supermoon and will conclude the series for the year. According to insights from celestial observation platforms, the next supermoon is set to grace the skies on September 18th, 2024. The following month, on October 17th, 2024, yet another supermoon is poised to make its appearance.
For those eager to seize the opportunity to witness the Super Blue Moon, comprehensive guides to top-notch telescopes and binoculars are recommended starting points. Additionally, individuals interested in capturing snapshots of the Super Blue Moon or the broader nighttime sky can refer to our guide on moon photography, as well as our recommendations for optimal cameras and lenses tailored to the pursuit of astrophotography.