Attention stargazers: Thursday evening’s full moon will be slightly larger and livelier than usual. According to NASA, it is also the last supermoon of the year.
The Sturgeon Moon — according to a 1930s edition of the Maine Farmer’s Almanac, the Algonquin people gave it that name for the large fish that are particularly common in the Great Lakes at this time of year — won’t be too noticeable to the casual observer. However, experts said it was a reminder of the miracle of observing a full moon.
“It’s bigger. It’s brighter, technically, but not so much that you’d go outside and naturally and instinctively feel something is super different,” said Jackie Faherty, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History. “Nevertheless, it’s great to see a full moon rise.”
Here’s what you need to know about the sturgeon moon and how to see it.
What is a super moon?
The word, coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979, is not an official astronomical term.
A super moon is a full moon that occurs when the moon is at perigee, its closest point in its orbit. This makes a supermoon bigger and brighter than other full moons.
These celestial events occur about three or four times a year, NASA said. The last was last month.
How noticeable is it?
It’s not all that obvious. But it can still be a beautiful sight on a clear night, said Noah Petro, a planetary geologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
A supermoon is about 17 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a full moon at apogee, or its farthest point, he said.
Even so, the distinction between a supermoon and a full moon, which occurs when the moon is farther from Earth, is subtle.
“The difference is only apparent in photos comparing a perigee full moon to an apogee full moon,” said James Lattis, an astronomer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
when does it happen
The moon has been full since Wednesday, but the stray moon will appear Thursday at 9:36 p.m. Eastern time, NASA said.
dr Faherty recommended people who want to see the Super Moon start earlier by watching the moonrise just after sunset.
Thursday night will be busy for heavenly events. The Perseid meteor shower, one of the most popular of the year, will peak Thursday night through Friday morning.
Also, Saturn will appear near the moon on Thursday evening. Sunday will be closest to Earth and busiest than any other time this year, according to NASA.
The full moon appears until Saturday morning.
how can i see it
Just go outside and look up. It might help to move to a place with less light pollution.
“I would recommend anyone who has clear skies tonight to head out around sunset and face east as long as there are no tall trees or buildings blocking the view and try to avoid bright lights,” said Dr. Petro.
“If it’s cloudy,” he said, “you can try tomorrow morning before sunrise or tomorrow evening.”
NASA offers tips for photographing the moment in its full glory.
When is the next super moon?
You have to wait a year. The next one won’t happen until August 2023, said Dr. Petro.