Florence Liang [email protected]
August is a special month for sky-gazers and fellow lunatics alike! This month will bookend itself with two remarkable lunar events. On the morning of August 1st, the world witnessed the Sturgeon Moon, a lunar phenomenon rich with cultural significance. Wrapping up the month, on August 30th, the much-celebrated blue moon will grace the night sky. These exceptional moons, commonly known as "supermoons," cast an enchanting spectacle, appearing noticeably larger than our usual lunar companion.
A supermoon occurs when the moon reaches its full phase while at its closest orbital point to Earth. This phenomenon, meticulously studied by astronomers and physicists over centuries, is governed by the moon's intricate movements. There’s no magic involved with this great celestial rock.
The moon, about 239,000 miles away, takes approximately 24 hours to revolve and has an orbit nearly 30 days long, aligning with the average length of a day and month in our Gregorian calendar. Over the span of 365 days, the moon orbits Earth while Earth orbits the Sun. Although this might suggest frequent alignments, not every full moon leads to a supermoon. Remarkably, on November 14, 2016, the moon came within 221,524 miles of Earth, marking the closest supermoon in nearly seven decades.
In the early hours of August 1st, the Sturgeon Supermoon emerged, bringing with it a serene ambiance to the night. Indigenous tribes bestowed this name upon the moon, inspired by the optimal time for catching giant Sturgeons in the Great Lakes during summer. Historically, Sturgeons reached astonishing lengths of 20 feet and weights exceeding 2,000 pounds. Today, their dimensions have diminished to around 6 feet in length and an average weight of 200 pounds. The Sturgeon Moon is not limited to this title alone—it's also associated with the peak harvest season when crops like corn and rice are ready for collection.
If you missed this event, anticipation builds for the second supermoon event of August. On the 30th, not only will we witness another supermoon, but also a captivating blue supermoon. The term "blue moon" typically denotes the third full moon occurring within a single season. While blue moons grace the sky every 2 to 3 years, the appearance of a blue supermoon is significantly rarer. The last instance of a blue supermoon dates back to December 2009. Should you miss this upcoming event, your patience will be tested until August 2032 for the next occurrence.