Summer of the Supermoons
By: Autumn Grey
Are you one of the many people (like me) who spaced out and completely missed the extraordinary super moon on July 3rd? Or perhaps you're the type to want to "collect them all" and want to load up the car and drive out to the countryside for each and every one? Well fellow space-cases and lunar enthusiasts - you're in luck! There are THREE more supermoons coming up and, fingers crossed, you'll be in the know so you can get out there and go see them!
But before we get too ahead of ourselves, what exactly is a supermoon anyway?
What is a supermoon?
Supermoons occur when the Moon reaches its full phase at the closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit, known as perigee. Due to this proximity, supermoons appear slightly larger and brighter than regular full moons, resulting in a truly mesmerizing experience for observers. According to eclipse expert and retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espanak, during the July 3rd 'Buck Moon', the moon was just 224,895 miles from Earth in comparison to its average distance of around 238,000 miles.
Why are supermoons significant to astronomers?
Supermoons offer astronomers a unique opportunity to study our celestial neighbor up close. The increased brightness and apparent size allow for detailed observations of the Moon's surface features, such as craters, mountains, and lava plains. Researchers can utilize this phenomenon to gather valuable data, including precise measurements and high-resolution imagery, aiding in the understanding of lunar geology and its historical evolution.
In addition, the study of supermoons helps refine our knowledge of the Moon's orbit and gravitational interaction with Earth. By analyzing the Moon's behavior during perigee, scientists can further refine models of lunar motion, enhancing our understanding of the broader dynamics of our solar system.
Do the supermoons have any significance for astrology?
Astrologers believe that supermoons possess unique energetic qualities that can influence our emotions, experiences, and spiritual growth. The amplified lunar energy during these events is said to heighten intuition, enhance dream activity, and promote a sense of introspection and emotional awareness.
Supermoons are often associated with increased tides, which astrologers relate to the ebb and flow of human emotions. It is believed that these powerful lunar energies can help illuminate unresolved emotions, facilitating personal growth and transformation. Many individuals find it an opportune time for meditation, intention setting, and connecting with their inner selves.
So when are the dates of the supermoons?
The first of the supermoons, the Buck Moon, was on July 3. The second, the Sturgeon Moon, will be on August 1, and the third on August 31 which is known as a Blue Moon. The fourth and last supermoon of 2023, the Harvest Moon, will be on September 29, 2023. The Harvest Moon will be a particularly special event for moon watchers, according to Space.com, as it will see the moon at its closest during this "supermoon summer" period, at just 222,043 miles away!
What are the significance of the names?
Since civilization began, humans have been giving names to celestial events, and the current supermoons are no different. For the July Buck Moon, the name derived from the traditions of Native American tribes. They named this moon after the male deer, commonly known as a buck, which would begin to grow its new antlers around that time of the year. For the Sturgeon Moon, well that comes from the Old Farmer's Almanac, first published in the United States in 1792. It was given this nickname because it was typically when the largest catches of sturgeon were made in North America. When it comes to the Blue Moon, however, that gets a bit trickier. The term "once in a blue moon" is used to signify something that doesn't happen very often, well this particular moon, which is the second full moon in August, really does happen "once in a blue moon" as months usually only have one full moon, not two. Then last but not least we have the Harvest Moon in September, named such because back in the olden days before electricity, farmers used the light of the moon to harvest their crops well into the night.
How to fully appreciate a supermoon
To fully appreciate the magnificence of a supermoon, it's best to find a location away from bright city lights. Seek out a spot with an unobstructed view of the horizon, such as a hilltop or open field, and make sure to bring binoculars or a telescope to see all the valleys and craters! Keen photographers will want a sturdy tripod and a good zoom lens in order to capture the opulence of our planet's nearest celestial body.