Moongazers are in for a treat for the second time in a month, with a “super blue moon” expected on 31 August.The astronomical event is a combination of a supermoon and a “blue moon”, and is occurring for the first time since 2009.
The term “supermoon” was coined in 1979 to describe the full moon coinciding with the closest point in its orbit around Earth. Supermoons are about 15% brighter than the average full moon, but the change is not generally visible to the naked eye. You may also read Viktor Hovland’s Sensational Putting Ignites Team Europe’s Ryder Cup Hopes.
After sunset on Wednesday, this Super Blue Moon will rise in the east, as seen from New York City. But if conditions happen to be poor for moonwatching in your area, you’re in luck: The Virtual Telescope Project hosted by astronomer Gianluca Masi of Rome, Italy will host a free livestream of the event starting at 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 30 (0330 GMT on Aug. 31). Watch it here at Space.com, courtesy of the project, or on the project’s
The next blue moon will not occur until May 2026, while the next super blue moon will not be until sometime in 2029.Despite the name, the term “super blue moon” refers neither to the colour nor intensity of the full moon itself.Instead, a “blue moon” denotes the frequency of a full moon, though exact definitions differ between agencies.
This special event is the coincidence of two uncommon moon traits: A supermoon, which occurs when the moon appears larger than usual, and a blue moon, or the second full moon in a month. According to NASA, a blue moon only occurs once every two or three years on average—and a blue moon that is also a supermoon is even rarer. While a “super blue moon” can occasionally happen twice within two months, at other times, it could be 20 years before the phenomenon repeats. On average, such an event occurs once per decade, per the agency.
Astronomy lovers get to experience supermoons because the moon’s orbit around Earth isn’t a perfect circle. As a result, the distance between us and the moon varies as it loops around our planet. Roughly three or four times each year, the full moon occurs while the moon is at its closest point to Earth, called the perigee. These supermoons appear 7 percent larger than the average full moon and 14 percent larger than a full moon at its most distant point from Earth, or the apogee.
The second full moon in a calendar month is known as a ‘blue moon’. It’s not clear where the name came from, as it has nothing to do with the moon’s colour, which remains the same. Some accounts link it to the archaic term ‘belewe’, or ‘to betray’, because people using the lunar calendar felt betrayed when a second full moon appeared inside a calendar month.
Oddly enough, whether or not a full moon is ‘blue’ or not differs depending on where you are in the world because it’s based on calendar dates, and – as New Zealanders are especially aware of – not everywhere in the world is experiencing the same date at the same time.
The first full moon this month arrived for Kiwis on the morning of 2 August, and this one will technically reach full moon status at 1.35pm on 31 August, so it counts – but the ‘blue moon’ the US will experience in December 2028, for example, won’t be a blue moon here, because the second full moon won’t kick in until 5.48am on 1 January, 2029 NZT. Sometimes a moon is considered ‘blue’ in some parts of large countries, but not in others.
“The time between super blue moons is quite irregular ― it can be as much as 20 years ― but in general, 10 years is the average,” a post on NASA’s website states. You should also check Unveiling ‘Sea of Stars A Mesmerizing 16-Bit RPG Journey by Sabotage.
But as space.com notes, the moon basically looks full for a night before and after the “imperceptible” moment it’s technically full, so it kind of counts regardless.
Blue moons happen on average about once every two-and-a-half-years. Sometimes however, they happen twice in one year – in those years, February misses out on a full moon altogether. NASA says getting a second blue moon in a calendar year only happens about four times a century.