A rare night-sky event is less than one week away, and it will be over a decade before we’ll see it again.
On Wednesday, Aug. 30, the moon will appear as a full moon, supermoon and blue moon all in one. It’s something that won’t happen again until 2037, according to NASA.
So, what exactly does that mean? Let’s break down what a super blue moon is.
What is a supermoon?
NASA says that each month the moon passes through the point closest to Earth called the “perigee.” When the moon does this during its full moon stage, it appears larger, brighter and closer to earth, hence the nickname “supermoon.”
It’s also noted on NASA’s website that this occurs three to four times a year. This year, there are four supermoons: One in July, two in August and one in September, Space.com reported.
What is a blue moon?
Despite being named after a color, a blue moon doesn’t get its name due to its appearance. Instead it’s due to its frequency.
A blue moon is a full moon that appears twice in the same month, according to NASA. The moon’s cycle is 29.5 days. So, typically, the full moon appears once in a single month.
However, in rare occasions, a full moon will occur twice in a single month, and it is then referred to as a blue moon.
According to Space.com, blue moons occur every two to three years. The last one was in August 2021, and after this year’s, the next will be in August 2024.
When is the best time to see the super blue moon?
The super blue moon will rise overnight from Aug. 30-31, NASA said.
Forbes reports that the best time to see the super blue moon will depend “on the separation between the exact time of sunset and the exact time of moonrise.”
Going outside around moonrise may be your best bet, according to Forbes, and it’s best to “be in a location where you can see low down to the eastern horizon.” You can check online to see when the moon rises in your area.
The moon will appear slightly bigger and brighter than normal, according to NASA.
“When the Moon is closest to Earth (a ‘supermoon’), it looks about 14 percent bigger than when it’s farthest from Earth,” NASA said. “This is similar to the size difference between a quarter and a nickel. Because the Moon will be close to us in its orbit, it will appear a bit brighter than usual.”
NASA said the next super blue moons will “occur in a pair, in January and March 2037.”
“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,” NASA said.