Tonight and for the next couple of nights, you have a chance to see a supermoon. That is what the full moon is called when it is at its closest point to the Earth.
The picture in this blog is not a supermoon. I took it a couple of weeks ago because I thought the moon looked pretty as it peaked through my neighbor’s Japanese Black Pine. The supermoon is a full moon. The one in this picture looks more like a quarter moon.
It should be pretty easy to spot the supermoon Aug. 1-3 in the evening sky. If it’s too cloudy, maybe the clouds will move away from the moon after a little while so you can see it.
There are several supermoons in a year. The one on August 1 is called the Sturgeon Moon because there are more sturgeon fish in North American lakes at this time of year.
If you don’t see the supermoon on August 1, that’s okay. It will still be bright on August 2 and 3. When the sky starts to get a little dark, go outside and see if you can spot it. It will be the brightest thing in the night sky.
There will be another Supermoon on August 30. It’s unusual to have two supermoons in one month. The second supermoon in a month is called a Blue Moon. That’s probably where the phrase “once in a blue moon” came from. It means it doesn’t happen too often.
The last supermoon in 2023 will be on Sept. 29. It is called the harvest moon, and it occurs once every four years.
The supermoon happens when the full moon is at its closest point to the Earth. There is a difference between a supermoon and a full moon. The full moon occurs every 27 days. That is when the moon is in its full phase. A supermoon occurs when the moon is both in its full phase and when its orbit brings it closest to the Earth. That is called a lunar perigee.
The moon doesn’t orbit the Earth in a circle. Instead, it has an elliptical shape. It looks a little bit like a circle that got slightly flattened. During a lunar perigee, the moon is about 226,000 miles away from the Earth. During a lunar apogee, the point where the moon is farthest away from the Earth, the distance between the moon and the Earth is about 251,000 miles.
During a supermoon, you don’t have to remember all that information. Just have fun watching the supermoon for the next couple of nights!