August is ‘once in a blue moon’ month, featuring two supermoons
Tyler Junior College’s planetarium director explains supermoons and their rarity.
TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - The night sky on Aug. 1 displayed the first of two supermoons this month, with the second set to occur on Aug. 31. A supermoon, explains Beau Hartweg, the director of the Earth and Space Science Center at Tyler Junior College, is when a full moon occurs while the moon is at its closest point in orbit to the Earth.
“The way you can think of it is simply when something is further away from you it looks smaller, and as it moves closer to you it looks bigger, and that’s the same thing that happens with the moon,” said Hartweg.
What makes this month special is not just the presence of two supermoons but also it being a blue moon month. A blue moon is when there are two full moons in one month.
“‘Once in a blue moon’...it means when there are two full moons in a month, and that usually happens every year or year and a half or so,” said Hartweg. “Supermoons happen about two to three times. Sometimes in a rare year, you’ll get up to four in a year, but where it is special this year is that we are having a blue moon and a supermoon colliding, and that’s what makes this a rare event.”
Hartweg said supermoons can be 20% brighter and 10% bigger in the sky than normal full moons.
“The way I like to explain it is the difference between a 14-inch and a 15-inch pizza. Pizza connoisseurs definitely know the difference between a 14-inch and a 15-inch pizza,” said Hartweg. “For people who are just getting out to appreciate its beauty, you’re going to get a nice full moon. It’ll probably appear a little bit brighter than it normally does.”
August is not the end of lunar events in 2023. There will be a solar eclipse on Oct. 14 followed by a complete solar eclipse on Apr. 8, 2024.
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