Not one but two supermoons are set to grace the sky this August, with one of them being a rare blue moon! If we’re lucky enough to have clear skies, observing this stunning phenomenon should be easy.
What is a Supermoon?
A supermoon takes place when a full moon occurs near the Moon’s closest orbital point to Earth. This year's first supermoon was in July. Tonight’s (1 August) supermoon, the Sturgeon Moon, will be just 222,159 miles (357,530km) away. Then, on Thursday, 31 August, prepare for an even closer (and rarer) BLUE supermoon - marking a second full moon in a month and a mere 222,043 miles (357,344km) from Earth. The fourth and last supermoon of the year will be in September.
Folklore and the Supermoon:
The reason for moons being given different names dates back to the behaviour of the plants, animals, or weather. According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, the August full moon is traditionally known as the sturgeon moon - because of the abundance of fish in North America's Great Lakes in August hundreds of years ago.
For centuries, people have believed there is a connection between the full moon and mania. The word "lunacy" comes from the Roman goddess of the moon, Luna, who was believed to ride through the sky each night. Additionally, it is said that supermoons can enhance your emotions, feelings, and instincts and often signal a time for growth and self-reflection.
Its Effect on Nature
During a supermoon, the moon's closer proximity to Earth can enhance the gravitational pull on our planet, leading to slightly higher tides than usual. When this coincides with other factors like the sun's and moon's alignment, it may result in a "king tide." While the supermoon can contribute to the intensity of a king tide, the effects are generally temporary and not a cause for significant concern on their own.
To catch the best view, head out around sunset or moonset (just before sunrise), when it can appear up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than usual, making for an impressive sight. People using binoculars or telescopes may even be able to see features such as lunar maria - the dark plains formed by ancient volcanic lava flows - and rays emanating from lunar craters.
The last time we witnessed two full supermoons in the same month was in 2018, and we won't see it again until 2037. So, don't miss out on this rare, once-in-a-blue-moon event!