If you haven't seen a supermoon yet, Thursday night is your last chance in 2022!
For the fourth and final time this year, the supermoon, also known as the Sturgeon moon, will occur at 9:36 p.m. EDT (6:36 p.m. PDT) — and the next one won't happen until June 14, 2023. So pack a little bag of snacks, bring a pair of binoculars, and head out someplace dark to catch the last supermoon of the year! Here's everything you need to know.
Roman Overko/Getty Images Beautiful view of rare summer full blue sturgeon Moon rising over Irish sky between Dun Laoghaire lighthouses on August 23, 2021 seen from Sandymount Beach, Dublin, Ireland.
What Is a Supermoon?
A supermoon is a full moon that occurs when the moon is at its closest point to Earth — a point known as perigee. (The moon orbits around us in an elliptical, not circular shape.) Thus it appears ever so slightly bigger and brighter in the night sky compared to a normal full moon. According to astrologer Richard Nolle, who coined the term "supermoon" in 1979, the moon must be within 90% of perigee to be considered a supermoon, which is why there can be more than one per year.
What's So Special About This Supermoon?
This is the fourth supermoon in a row in 2022 — the first happened in May, and there's been one every month since. But it's also the last one in 2022! The next one won't happen until June 14, 2023, with three more over the following three months. (No, supermoons aren't that rare!)
Additionally, there's something of a two-for-one deal on the night of the supermoon — it coincides with the peak of the Perseids meteor shower. Technically, that's not a good thing. "Sadly, this year's Perseids peak will see the worst possible circumstances for spotters," NASA astronomer Bill Cooke said in a statement. "Most of us in North America would normally see 50 or 60 meteors per hour," he said, "but this year, during the normal peak, the full Moon will reduce that to 10–20 per hour at best." On the plus side, if you're viewing the supermoon, perhaps you'll see a few shooting stars pass by!
When and Where Can I See the Supermoon?
The supermoon reaches its peak at 9:36 p.m. EDT (6:36 p.m. PDT) but it might still be below the horizon at that point, depending on where you're located. That said, the moon will still appear full the whole night, so you can head out any time. For the best view, go somewhere dark, away from light pollution (which also maximizes your chance of seeing shooting stars from the Perseids meteor shower). But the moon is so bright that you'll still be able to see it from any city!
If the weather doesn't cooperate with you, you can tune into a livestream by the Virtual Telescope Project, which will show the moon over the night sky in Rome.