In Mississippi, the Blue Moon of August 2023 will grace the night sky this week, providing skywatchers with another supermoon.
On Wednesday night (Aug. 30), the Blue Moon will emerge, visible in the eastern direction just after sunset. It’ll be easy to spot, as it is set to be the brightest and largest moon of the year. This particular moon holds significance due to its double distinction: not only is it a full moon, but it’s also a Blue Moon, denoting the third full moon in a season that comprises four full moons, according to NASA. But what we call a “Blue Moon” has nothing to do with its color. Normally there are 12 fully lit, or full, moons per year. A season of three months should therefore contain three full moons.
And yes they do occur only once in a blue moon! Simply put, it refers to the second full moon occurring within a single calendar month, with a span of approximately 29 1/2 days between one full moon and the next. This month we’ve already seen the Full Sturgeon Moon on Aug. 1.
Moreover, this Blue Moon is classified as a supermoon coinciding with perigee, the point in the moon’s orbit when it is closest to Earth. While the naked eye may not notice the slight 7% increase in visible size, it will appear slightly larger than usual.
Accompanying the moon in the night sky this week is Saturn. The gas giant adorned with rings will be a few days past opposition, the moment when it lies directly opposite the sun from our vantage point on Earth. As a result, Saturn will shine exceptionally bright.
From an astronomical perspective, Blue Moons aren’t as rare as the old sayings would have us believe, appearing every two to three years. The last Blue Moon was in August 2021, and the next slated for August 2024. In the meantime, you can always hear good ol’ Earl Thomas Conley sing about it here: