Tue, Sep 26, 2023

Prepare for the spectacular super blue moon this week: Here's what you need to know

This exceptional occurrence, happening once every ten years, is an awe-inspiring spectacle not to be missed. Discover all the details within

Written by  Annesha Barua -- August 28th 2023 03:09 PM -- Updated: August 28th 2023 03:39 PM
Prepare for the spectacular super blue moon this week: Here's what you need to know

Prepare for the spectacular super blue moon this week: Here's what you need to know

PTC News Desk: Get ready for a breathtaking celestial spectacle as a "blue supermoon" graces the night sky on August 30. This extraordinary phenomenon, which occurs only once every decade, promises to be a truly awe-inspiring sight. Here's a comprehensive rundown of what you need to know about this rare occurrence.

Calling all enthusiasts of the night sky! This week brings a remarkable event known as the "once in a blue moon" occurrence. Set your sights on the evening of August 30th to witness this celestial rarity. The phrase "once in a blue moon" refers to a genuine lunar phenomenon, and as the expression suggests, these occurrences are exceptionally rare. The lunar event scheduled for this Wednesday is not expected to repeat itself for many years to come.

However, it's important to clarify that the term "blue moon" is somewhat misleading. Contrary to its name, the moon won't actually appear blue in hue. Instead, it will showcase a striking orange coloration. As the curtain falls on the four-part supermoon series that evening, the super blue moon will claim its position as the third-largest moon to have graced our skies this year.

The anticipation surrounding this event is undeniably thrilling, but you might be wondering: What exactly is a blue supermoon? Don't worry; we're here to provide you with all the essential details. Let's delve into what makes this rare event truly special.

Exploring the concept of a blue moon: Two definitions, no colour

Have you ever heard the term "blue moon" and wondered what it really means? Contrary to its name, a blue moon has nothing to do with the moon's color. Instead, it's a fascinating lunar occurrence with two distinct definitions, both related to the timing of full moons within a given period.

The regular rhythm of full moons typically involves one occurrence each month, about every 30 days. However, every once in a while, there's an exception – a blue moon. But what exactly is a blue moon and why does it happen?

There are two primary definitions of a blue moon, and they both revolve around the idea of having an extra full moon in a specific timeframe. Let's dive into the details of these definitions.

Seasonal Blue Moon: This definition of a blue moon follows the traditional understanding. A seasonal blue moon refers to the third full moon in a season that comprises four full moons. This scenario arises due to the mismatch between the lunar cycle and the calendar year. While our months are often around 30 or 31 days long, a lunar phase cycle lasts about 29.5 days. Over time, this misalignment can lead to a situation where four full moons occur within a single season, making the third full moon the "blue moon."

Monthly Blue Moon: This definition came about due to a misunderstanding of the seasonal blue moon concept. A monthly blue moon refers to the second full moon occurring within a single calendar month. This can happen when there's an early full moon at the beginning of a month, followed by another full moon near the end of the same month. This relatively rare event gave rise to the phrase "once in a blue moon," signifying something that doesn't happen very often.

Interestingly, the monthly blue moon definition, despite its origin as a misunderstanding, has gained recognition and is now an accepted concept. According to Time and Date, this definition is seen as the second meaning of a blue moon, rather than being incorrect.

As the average lunar cycle lasts 29.5 days, there's a discrepancy between the lunar year (about 354 days) and the solar year (about 365 days). This difference means that about every 2.5 years, a 13th full moon occurs within a single calendar year. This extra full moon doesn't fit the usual lunar naming sequence, so it's termed the Blue Moon.

In conclusion, while a blue moon might not actually appear blue, it holds an intriguing place in our understanding of lunar cycles and calendar systems. Whether you think of it as the third full moon in a season with four or the second full moon in a calendar month, the blue moon is a reminder of the complexity of timekeeping and celestial phenomena.

Super blue moon phenomenon: Brightness, timing, and rarity

Ever heard of a "super blue moon" and wondered what makes it so special? This cosmic event holds a blend of intriguing factors that elevate it beyond the ordinary. Let's delve into the details of why it's dubbed a super blue moon, when and how to observe it best, and just how rare this phenomenon truly is.

The super blue moon definition:

A super blue moon is named as such due to a combination of its characteristics. Occurring as the third and final full moon of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, this phenomenon stands out for being the second full moon within a single calendar month, aligning with the Moon's approximately 29-day orbit around the Earth. This alignment earns it the "super moon" title, as it appears larger and approximately 16% brighter than a regular full moon. The size difference between a supermoon and a typical full moon is likened to that between a quarter and a nickel, as described by NASA. This unique occurrence takes place when the moon is both in its full phase and its orbit brings it closest to Earth.

Optimal viewing time for the super blue moon:

For the best experience, it's recommended to observe a full moon when it rises just after sunset during the early evening hours of dusk. On August 30, 2023, precisely at 8:37 p.m. EDT, the Super Blue Moon will reach its peak brightness. The moonrise, coinciding with twilight, presents an ideal moment for moon enthusiasts. European viewers have an added opportunity on Thursday, August 31, as the moonrise occurs slightly later than on Wednesday.

In London, the moon rises at 8:08 p.m. BST, aligned with a 7:54 p.m. BST sunset. In New York, moonrise takes place at 7:45 p.m. EDT, closely following the 7:33 p.m. EDT sunset (the full moon reaches its peak at 8:37 p.m. EDT). Los Angeles witnesses both moonrise and sunset at 7:36 p.m. PDT, with the full moon achieving its maximum at 5:37 p.m. PDT. As August 31, 2023 arrives, London anticipates a 7:52 p.m. BST sunset and an 8:24 p.m. BST moonrise, while the full moon culminates at 1:37 a.m. BST.

The rarity of the blue super moon:

According to NASA, blue supermoons are a remarkable rarity in the cosmic calendar. These occurrences arise approximately once every ten years due to specific astronomical alignments. However, on occasion, the span between blue supermoons can extend to twenty years. While blue moons represent just 3% of all full moons, supermoons constitute around 25 per cent of this lunar phase. The time gap between super blue moons can be irregular, reaching up to two decades, but the average occurrence spans a decade. The subsequent instances of super blue moons are projected for 2037, with pairs set for January and March.

In essence, the super blue moon is a captivating fusion of orbital dynamics, illumination intensity, and infrequent celestial synchrony. It serves as a reminder of the beauty and complexity inherent in the dance between Earth, the moon, and the stars above.

- With inputs from agencies


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