Attention all stargazers and moon lovers: August will feature two celestial treats as the month will begin and end with supermoons.
The Full Sturgeon Moon will rise tonight, Tuesday Aug. 1. The month will then close out with a special and rare Full Blue Moon on Aug. 30.
What is a supermoon?
The moon orbits around the Earth in an ellipse, or oval shape, that brings the moon closer to and farther from our planet as it goes around.
The farthest point in this orbit is called the apogee, which is on average about 253,000 miles from Earth.
The moon reaches its closest point to Earth, known as the perigee, at an average distance of around 226,000 miles.
A supermoon is a term used to describe when a full moon appears at perigee. Due to its close proximity to the Earth, the moon will appear up to about 14% larger and 30% brighter during this phenomenon.
The first of two supermoons this month is known as the “Full Sturgeon Moon,” and will rise over the sky Tuesday night. It will reach total perigee the next day, Aug. 2.
August’s first full moon is called the “Sturgeon Moon” because sturgeon were most readily caught by Native American tribes during this part of summer in the Great Lakes area, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. The “Sturgeon Moon” was preceded this year by the “Buck Moon” at the start of July.
What makes this month’s supermoons special?
Have you ever wondered where the phrase “once in a blue moon” comes from?
While the Earth observes 12 full moons most years, one for each month. However, this year will see 13 full moons, with a special second full moon in August. When a second full moon happens in the same calendar month, it’s known as a “blue moon.”
Since the moon’s cycle takes 29.5 days to complete, occasionally two full moons will fit into a single month. According to NASA, blue moons occur about every three years on average, with the next coming in May 2026.
On top of this rare occasion, this month’s blue moon will also be a supermoon.
The last time two supermoons graced the sky in the same month was in 2018, and it won’t happen again until 2037.
How to see Tuesday night’s Full Sturgeon supermoon in SoCal
The Sturgeon supermoon will be bright and large enough to see from most locations, though viewing may be challenging due to partly to mostly cloudy skies in the region tonight according to NBC4 meteorologist Belen De Leon.
In Los Angeles, moonrise will occur at 8:27 p.m. To find out what specific time the moon will rise in your area, you can click here.
To enjoy the best possible view, you’ll want to find a dark and open location away from light pollution. Binoculars or a telescope will also allow you to get a closer look at the moon’s features.
Source: NBC Los Angeles