Super Blue Moon Alert: Biggest And Brightest Moon of the Year is Here, Saturn is Also Joining

Skywatchers are in for a celestial treat as the Blue Moon of August 2023 graces the night sky. 

This phenomenon, which is set to rise on the night of August 30 at 9:35 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, is not just any ordinary Blue Moon. It is both a "Blue Moon" and a "supermoon," meaning it is the second full moon in a month and is also at its closest point to Earth, making it appear larger and brighter than usual.

The term "Blue Moon" is typically used to describe the third full moon in a season with four full moons. However, it can also refer to the second full moon in a single month. This August's Blue Moon is of the latter type, known as a calendrical Blue Moon, due to the month having 31 days.

But the celestial wonders don't stop there. On the same day, the moon will make a close approach to the planet Saturn in Earth's night sky. Observers in central Europe are particularly well-placed to witness the moment when the moon and Saturn are in conjunction, sharing the same celestial longitude. 

An illustration of the night sky on Aug. 30, 2023 showing the Blue Moon near Saturn in the Aquarius constellation. (Image credit: Chris Vaughan/Starry Night)

In Warsaw, for instance, the moon and Saturn will rise around 7:37 p.m. local time, with the conjunction occurring at 8:07 p.m. By 9:43 p.m., the moon will pass within just over 2 degrees of Saturn, with the moon appearing just below the planet.

The term "supermoon" refers to when a full moon coincides with its perigee, the point in its orbit when it is closest to Earth. This makes the moon appear slightly larger and brighter. For this particular supermoon, it will be 221,942 miles away from Earth, making it appear about 7 percent larger than normal.

This Blue Moon event is also culturally significant. For instance, the Old Farmer's Almanac refers to the August full moon as the Sturgeon moon, marking the time when these fish are abundant. Meanwhile, in the Pacific Northwest, the Tlingit associate this period with ripe berries on the mountain.

As the moon and Saturn rise together, they promise a night of wonder for all skywatchers, reminding us of the ever-evolving dance of celestial bodies in our vast universe.

More: EarthSky