The moon in August 2023 will be a spectacular sight for skywatchers, as it will feature a rare blue moon, 2 full moons, 2 supermoons, and a partial lunar eclipse.
A Blue Moon is a term used to describe a relatively rare event when two Full Moons occur within a single calendar month. Typically, a calendar month contains only one Full Moon, but occasionally, due to the mismatch between the lunar month and the calendar month (which is about 30.44 days long), there can be two Full Moons in a month. The second Full Moon in such a situation is called the Blue Moon. However, it’s essential to note that the term “Blue Moon” has nothing to do with the Moon’s color, and it still appears the usual shade of gray or pale yellow.
A Full Moon occurs when the Moon is positioned directly opposite the Sun, and its entire face is fully illuminated, as seen from Earth. This happens approximately once every 29.5 days, which is the duration of a lunar cycle or a synodic month. During a Full Moon, the Moon appears bright and round in the sky.
A Supermoon is a term used to describe a Full Moon that coincides with the Moon’s closest approach to Earth (perigee) in its elliptical orbit. When the Moon is at perigee, it appears slightly larger and brighter in the sky compared to an average Full Moon. The term “Supermoon” was popularized in recent years to describe these closer and brighter Full Moons, but the scientific term for this phenomenon is “perigee-syzygy.”
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, there will be two full moons in August 2023. The first one will occur on August 1st, and it will be a Blue Moon, meaning the second full moon in a calendar month. The second one will happen on August 30th, and it will be a Sturgeon Moon, named after the large fish that are more easily caught during this time of the year. Both full moons will be visible in the night sky for about three hours after sunset, depending on the location and weather conditions.
In August, there will be two supermoons also, one on August 9 and another on August 23. The first one will be the largest of the year, with a diameter of about 14% more than the average full moon. The second one will be slightly smaller, but still impressive. Supermoons are not only spectacular to observe, but also have some effects on the Earth’s tides, weather and geology. They can cause higher than normal tides, stronger waves, increased coastal erosion and more seismic activity. However, these effects are usually minor and not harmful to humans or the environment. Supermoons are a natural phenomenon that occur regularly and can be enjoyed by anyone with a clear view of the night sky.
The blue moon of August 2023 will coincide with the lunar eclipse that will be visible from parts of Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. The eclipse will last for about 3 hours and 18 minutes, and will cover about 58% of the moon’s surface at its peak. The moon will not turn blue during the eclipse, but it may appear reddish or coppery due to the sunlight refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere.
Lunar enthusiasts can enjoy these spectacular sights by using binoculars or telescopes, or by attending public viewing events organized by local astronomy clubs or observatories. Alternatively, they can watch live streams or recordings of the lunar events online, provided by various websites or apps. Lunar events are not only visually stunning, but also scientifically fascinating, as they reveal the intricate dynamics of the Earth-moon-sun system.