By Chris King •
Updated: 30 Jul 2023 • 20:09
Image of a supermoon.
Credit: Ramon Carretero/Shutterstock.com
LOVERS of the night sky are in for a real treat this month with two supermoons due to appear.
Supermoons are an astronomical phenomenon that occur when the satellite is at its nearest distance to the Earth. Although it is of course the same body, its close proximity makes the Moon appear to shine up to 30 per cent brighter as well as looking up to 14 per cent larger.
On the evening of Tuesday, August 1, the first of these two spectacles will take place. At the relatively close distance of 222,159 miles (357,530km) away, the full moon will rise in the southeast. Mercury and Mars should also be visible at the same time according to NASA.
August’s full moon is traditionally known as the Sturgeon moon. That is because of the abundance of that fish in the Great Lakes in August hundreds of years ago, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.
As if that was not enough to whet the appetite of any stargazer, August will culminate with another full moon. On Wednesday 30, the moon will be even closer in the night sky – its perigee –at a distance of 222,043 miles (357,344km).
If the weather conditions are good, then these delights should be visible to the human eye without the need of expensive telescopes.
‘So long as there’s not too much cloud, the full moon will be an unmistakable white orb in the sky. This is a good opportunity to use a small telescope or a pair of binoculars to see the moon’s detailed surface, or even try taking a few interesting moon photos’, said the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London.
‘However, you can see the moon perfectly well with just your eyes. Seeing moonrise just after sunset, or moonset just before sunrise, will be an impressive sight as it will appear enormous compared to the surrounding landscape’, it explained.
This phenomenon of two full moons in one month is extremely rare, earning the second one the name of a blue moon. It last occurred in 2018 and it will be 2037 before it happens again, according to the Italian astronomer Gianluca Masi, the founder of the Virtual Telescope Project.
In contrast, when the Moon is at its furthest – apogee – from Earth, it is at a distance of approximately 252,088 miles (405,696km).
According to NASA, the term ‘supermoon’ was coined in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle. It is often used to describe what astronomers would call a perigean full moon – a full moon occurring near or at the time when the Moon is at the closest point in its orbit around Earth.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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