New Jerseyans may view 2023’s biggest & brightest supermoon tonight

Super Blue Moon

If you need a reminder of the beauty and wonder of the natural world, you only need to gaze up at the night sky this evening to observe a lunar trifecta as applied to the Moon of Aug. 30-31, 2023.

It’s a full moon, a supermoon, and finally a blue moon, commonly referred to as a super blue moon.

New Jersey residents will have the chance to see the biggest and brightest supermoon of the year tonight, August 30.

The moon will appear 14% larger and 30% brighter than a typical full moon because it is both a supermoon and a blue moon. 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.

A supermoon occurs when the full moon coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth in its orbit. A blue moon is the second full moon in a month.

The two events don’t happen very often, and the combination of a supermoon and a blue moon is even rarer, and it only happens about once every 19 years. The next super blue moon will be on August 21, 2037.

The super blue moon will rise over New Jersey at 7:44 p.m. and reach its peak at 9:36 p.m. It will be visible to the naked eye, but binoculars or a telescope will offer a better view.

The best place to see the super blue moon is in a location with clear skies and little light pollution.

However, experts have warned that it could have dangerous repercussions here on Earth. 

The supermoon could raise tides above normal – just as Hurricane Idalia takes aim at Florida’s west coast. 

‘I would say the timing is pretty bad for this one,’ said Brian Haines, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Charleston, South Carolina. 

This animation shows the difference between a Moon at its closest point to Earth, when supermoons occur, and at its farthest. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The Moon travels around our planet in an elliptical orbit, or an elongated circle, with Earth closer to one side of the ellipse.

Each month, the Moon passes through the point closest to Earth (perigee) and the point farthest from Earth (apogee). When the Moon is at or near its closest point to Earth at the same time as it is full, it is called a “supermoon.”

During this event, because the full moon is a little bit closer to us than usual, it appears especially large and bright in the sky.

A blue moon is the term for when we see the full moon twice in a single month. The Moon’s cycle is 29.5 days, so just a bit shorter than the average length of a calendar month. Eventually, that gap results in a full moon happening at the beginning of a month with enough days still remaining for another full cycle ― so a second full moon in the same month. In other words, a full moon that happens on the 1st or 2nd of a month will probably be followed by a second full moon on the 30th or 31st. This happens every two to three years.

People sometimes refer to two types of blue moons: monthly and seasonal. This upcoming moon is a monthly blue moon. Seasonal blue moons occur when there are four full moons in a single season (spring, summer, fall and winter) instead of the usual three.

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