When To See Two Supermoons in August

The first one occurs at its fullest on Tuesday, Aug. 1, and a rare blue moon bookends the month on Aug. 30.
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Prepare this month for some astrological wonders, beginning on Tuesday, Aug. 1, when the latest supermoon will be at its fullest. 

The moon, also known as the Sturgeon Moon, will be, on average, 15% brighter and 7% larger, varying by time and location of viewing, according to Amanda Iwaniec, director of Theatre Experiences at the Carnegie Science Center. Supermoons appear when a full moon occurs at the same time that the moon’s orbit is closest to our planet. 

Aug. 1 will mark the second supermoon of four consecutive supermoons this year. The next supermoon — the Blue Moon — will arrive on Aug. 30. A blue moon, which will not be blue in color,  occurs when two full moons appear in the same month.

Iwaniec calls the blue moon a “bonus moon,” as it occurs between the August Sturgeon moon and the September Harvest Moon. The Sturgeon and Harvest moons occur every year, but the blue moon is a lucky bonus for stargazers — and it will be the closest and largest of all the supermoons this year.  The consecutive supermoons and blue moons are a rare site, occurring on average every three years, Iwaniec says.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Aug. 1 moon is called the Sturgeon Moon because the giant sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this part of the summer. 

Making an appearance along with the supermoons, the Perseids meteor shower — which is active yearly from mid-July through the end of August — will peak on Aug. 13, she says. This is when there will be 50 to 100 shooting stars an hour at its height. However, the cloudy Pittsburgh region makes it hard to stargaze as is, and the brightness of the supermoons will only add to the difficulty of viewing the meteor shower. 

The Carnegie Science Center will be holding its monthly Skywatch program from 8:45 to 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26. While the meteor shower may be a hit or miss for viewers, you can guarantee the view of the moon will be a sight to see from the science center’s roof.

“We’ll take some time to go through our planetarium dome, removing the light pollution and navigating and touring things that we wouldn’t be able to see very clearly in our sky, due to Downtown Pittsburgh’s light pollution and cloudy skies,” says Iwaniec. “Then we go to a rooftop and look through telescopes to see what’s out there. It’s a really great opportunity to see what will be happening in the night sky.”  

In addition, there is a stargazing party hosted by the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh, occuring during the meteor shower on Aug. 11 and 12 at Mingo Creek Park Observatory in Finleyville.

Categories: The 412