Updated Aug 29, 2023 - Science

August's rare super blue moon will be the last for over a decade

The previous supermoon in August seen in Turin, Italy.

The previous supermoon in August seen in Turin, Italy. Photo: Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

A rare blue supermoon will rise Wednesday night — appearing slightly larger and brighter than ordinary full moons.

Why it matters: The next moon of its kind won't be seen until January 2037, according to NASA.

What's a "super blue moon"?

The term "supermoon" refers to a full or a new moon rising near or while the moon reaches perigee, its closest distance to Earth in its orbit around the planet.

  • During a supermoon, the moon looks slightly brighter and around 14% larger than when it's farthest from Earth, per NASA, though it may be difficult to perceive the size difference.
  • The "blue" in blue moon doesn't refer to color, unfortunately, but frequency or rarity. It's used to describe a second full moon in a calendar month, which typically have only one full moon.
  • The coming supermoon is a blue moon since it's the second one to occur in August, after the sturgeon supermoon rose at the beginning of the month.

Of note: Around 25% of all full moons are supermoons, but only 3% of full moons are blue moons, according to NASA.

When to see the super blue moon

The super blue moon is set to appear after 9:30pm ET on Wednesday, and the moon will appear full until around Friday morning, per NASA.

  • Saturn will also appear just near the moon.
  • The Virtual Telescope Project will be running a live feed of the super blue moon rising over Rome beginning at 11:30pm ET on Aug. 30.

The big picture: The upcoming full moon plays a role in many different cultures, too, according to NASA.

  • It coincides with the Hindu festival Raksha Bandhan, which celebrates ties between siblings and acts of love and protection.
  • It also falls near the middle of the month in many traditional lunisolar and lunar calendars, including the Chinese, Islamic and Hebrew calendars.

Go deeper: The Moon renaissance is here

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