Updated Aug 2, 2023 - Science

Two supermoons rise this month, including a rare blue one

The sturgeon supermoon rises over the Empire State Building in New York City on Aug. 1, 2023. Photo: Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The moon appeared magnified and brighter on Tuesday as August's sturgeon supermoon rose, marking one of two supermoon events occurring this month.

Why it matters: The end of August will see the rise of a rare super blue moon, which only occurs about every 10 years, according to NASA.

What's a "supermoon?"

Supermoon, a term coined in 1979, refers to a full or a new moon occurring near or while the moon reaches perigee, its closest to Earth in its elliptical orbit around the planet.

  • The moon will look much larger and far brighter than it does during other full moons, though it may be difficult to perceive the size difference.
  • High tides and low tides will also be more extreme, as the moon's gravitational pull on the oceans will be stronger than normal.
  • Three to four supermoons appear throughout the year. The previous one in 2023 was the full buck moon on July 3.
The sturgeon supermoon rises over the Blue Mosque and Ayasofya-i Kebir Camii or Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in Istanbul on August 2, 2023. Photo: Yasin Akgul/AFP via Getty Images

When to see the sturgeon supermoon

The sturgeon supermoon began on Tuesday and was expected to reach peak illumination at 2:32pm ET, according to the Farmer's Almanac.

  • The moon will appear full for three days around this time, and reached pedigree early Wednesday morning.
  • The sturgeon moon got its name from the Farmer's Almanac, as Native American tribes readily caught the large fish in the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain during the full moon.
A supermoon rises over Yellow Crane Tower on Aug. 1, 2023, in Wuhan, Hubei Province of China. Photo: VCG/Getty Images

When is the super blue moon?

Later this month, a second full moon will appear, making it a blue moon.

  • The "blue" in blue moon unfortunately doesn't refer to the color but frequency. It's used to describe the second full moon in a calendar month, which usually only have one full moon.
  • They on average happen once every two and a half years, but what's especially noteworthy about this upcoming blue moon is that it will appear during the moon's perigee.
  • On August 30, the full moon will peak at 9:36pm ET, appearing full for three days around that time.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with new details photos of the Aug. 1 supermoon.

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