By: Jordan Park
Local News Editor
A unique moon, known as a blue supermoon, made a special appearance in the sky last month.
A blue supermoon is a rare celestial phenomenon. A blue supermoon occurs when a blue moon and supermoon align to form a larger, brighter, and second full moon. This type of lunar phase happens only once every ten years or so and could be seen high and bright on Aug. 29 through the morning of Sept. 1 from almost anywhere in the world. This moon was the closest and most visible it would be all year and was opposite the sun at 6:36 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on Wednesday, Aug. 30. The next blue supermoon occurrence will be even more spectacular in January and March of 2037, appearing as a set of two.
This blue supermoon impacted Hurricane Idalia, which recently made landfall on Aug. 30. The moon’s gravitational pull causes the ocean to bulge, but a supermoon has an increased effect on the waves because of its close proximity to Earth. The intensified gravitational pull caused higher-than-normal waves during Idalia, which resulted in even more coastal flooding in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
To expand on the two moon phases that align to form a blue supermoon, a blue moon is a second full moon that appears within a single month. Normally, a month only hosts one. To the disappointment of many, a blue moon is not actually blue. The adjective does not describe the color of the moon but, instead, its rarity. Certain natural disasters can sometimes tint the moon blue, although this is infrequent. Furthermore, these blue moons are not particularly common, only occurring every two or three years, hence the term “once in a blue moon.”
Conversely, a supermoon describes a full moon that nearly coincides with the perigee, meaning it’s the closest it comes to Earth in orbit around our planet. A supermoon is about 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than when it is near the apogee, the farthest distance the moon would be from Earth in its orbit. Moreover, the moon’s orbit is not circular but rather an oval shape, making perigee and apogee impactful to the semblance of the moon. Supermoons are significantly more common since about 25 percent of full moons are supermoons compared to only about three percent being blue moons. Supermoons happen consecutively four times within a year, with the next set to appear on Sept. 29, 2023.
(Sources: New York Times, NASA, CNN, Axios, AP News, National Geographic, ABC)
Categories: Local News