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August started with a bright supermoon and will end the same way when another lights up the night sky this week. The ringed planet Saturn will also make its closest and brightest appearance of the year near the Moon.
The full moon will peak at 9:36 p.m. ET on the evening of August 30, but will appear full until Friday morning, according to NASA.
On Wednesday, at the end of twilight, around 8:42 p.m. ET, the bright glow of Saturn will appear about 5 degrees to the upper right of the moon. During the evening, Saturn will appear to move clockwise around the Moon, according to NASA. At their closest, the two will appear to be about four full moons apart, according to EarthSky.
Saturn reached its opposition on August 27, when Earth moved between it and the sun, meaning the ringed planet is at the point in its orbit closest to our planet and therefore visible in our night sky.
August’s two full moons can be considered supermoons, according to EarthSky. Definitions of a super moon can vary, but the term generally refers to a full moon that is closer to Earth than normal and therefore appears larger and brighter in the night sky. The Moon will be 222,043 miles (357,344 kilometers) from Earth, nearly 18,000 miles (28,968 kilometers) closer than its average distance.
Some astronomers claim the phenomenon occurs when the Moon is less than 90% of its perigee – its closest approach to Earth in orbit.
The supermoon could play a role in Hurricane Idalia, which is expected to make landfall Wednesday morning, by strengthening tides and worsening storm surges. Due to the proximity to Earth, this supermoon will have a stronger effect on the oceans.
That could raise the high tide by about a foot, according to National Hurricane Center deputy director Jamie Rhome.
The second full moon in a month is also known as a blue moon, like the phrase “once in a blue moon,” according to NASA. Don’t expect it to take on a blue hue.
Typically, full moons occur every 29 days, whereas most months in our calendar are 30 or 31 days long, so the months and moon phases don’t always line up. This translates to a blue moon roughly every 2.5 years, and the last one was in August 2021.
The second full moon of August also falls on the Hindu festival of Raksha Bandhan, which celebrates the bonds between siblings.
Full Moons and Supermoons
The fourth and final supermoon of 2023 will rise on September 29.
Here are the remaining full moons in 2023, according to the Farmers’ Almanac:
● September 29: Harvest Moon
● October 28: Hunter’s Moon
● November 27: Beaver Moon
● December 26: Cold Moon
Lunar and solar eclipses
People in North, Central and South America will be able to witness an annular solar eclipse. During the solar eclipse, the Moon will pass between the Sun and Earth at or near its furthest point from Earth. The moon will appear smaller than the sun and surrounded by a bright halo.
To avoid eye damage when observing the phenomenon, viewers should wear eclipse glasses.
A partial lunar eclipse will also occur on October 28. Only part of the Moon will pass into shadow because the Sun, Earth and Moon will not completely align. This partial eclipse will be visible in Europe, Asia, Australia, parts of North America, and much of South Africa.
Each of the remaining meteor showers expected to peak this year will be most visible from late evening until dawn in areas without light pollution. Here are the peak event dates:
● Orionids: October 20-21
● Southern Taurids: 4 and 5 November
● Northern Taurids: November 11-12
● Leonids: November 17-18
● Geminids: December 13-14
● Ursids: December 21 and 22
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