Look up this week! The final supermoon of the year will rise on Thursday night as our lunar satellite appears up to 30% bigger and brighter in the night sky
- The final full moon of the year is set to put on a spectacle early Friday morning
- It is known as ‘Sturgeon Moon’ as the fish were easier to catch at this time of year
- The full moon will reach 100 per cent illumination at 02:36 BST (21:36 ET)
- The following night, the Perseids meteor shower will reach its peak
If you’re a fan of stargazing, make sure you block Thursday evening off in your calendar.
The moon is expected to appear up to 30 per cent brighter in the early hours of Friday morning, in what is known as a ‘supermoon’.
The final supermoon of the year will be visible any time the sky is clear between sunset on August 11 and sunrise the following morning, although the moon will reach full illumination at 02:36 BST.
A supermoon occurs when the full moon nearly coincides with perigee – the point in the orbit of the moon at which it is nearest to the Earth.
Its proximity bolsters its brightness and size in the night sky from our planet, while on the moon it would appear the same as normal.
August’s full moon is known as the Sturgeon Moon in a traditional naming system developed by early Native Americans.
Their system uses the different months’ full moons as a calendar to keep track of the seasons.
The eighth full moon of 2022 is named the Sturgeon Moon because large sturgeon fish were more easily caught in the Great Lakes at this time of year.
A plane passes in front of July’s full moon in Milwaukee in Wisconsin, USA. The final supermoon of the year will be visible any time the sky is clear between sunset on August 11 and sunrise the following morning, although the moon will reach full illumination at 02:36 BST
The full Sturgeon super moon will be in the constellation Capricornus when it reaches its peak
WHEN CAN I SEE THE SUPERMOON?
The supermoon will be visible in the UK after it rises at the following times:
London – 20:54 BST
Edinburgh – 21:30 BST
Plymouth – 21:06 BST
It will reach the perigee at 16:00 BST, and have peak illumination at 02:36 BST (21:36 ET), but as this is still in daylight hours it will not be visible to stargazers at those times.
Supermoons occur because the moon orbits the Earth on an elliptical path, rather than a circular one.
This means there is a point in its 29.5-day orbit where it is closest to the Earth and, at certain times of the year, it passes this point during a full moon.
This makes it appear about 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than when a full moon appears at the apogee – the point furthest away from out planet.
A supermoon is about 7 per cent larger and 15 per cent brighter than a standard full Moon.
This is widely acknowledged to be the final supermoon of the year, after the last three full moons fulfilled the distance or time constraints that define one.
Some parts of the scientific community, including NASA, use the supermoon definition set by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979, who classed it as a full moon that comes within 90 per cent of its perigee — the closest point to Earth in its orbit.
However, retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak calculates supermoons to account for changes in the lunar orbit each lunar cycle.
The average distance of the moon from the Earth is 238,855 miles (384,400 km), but in its perigee it is only 222,089 miles (357,264 km) away.
The moon will actually reach the perigee on August 10 at 16:00 BST (13:00 ET), but it will not reach peak illumination until August 12 at 02:36 BST (21:36 ET).
This is because, at this moment, the Moon is directly between the sun and the Earth in a straight line.
If the horizon is obstructed by buildings or trees, it is worth waiting longer so the moon can rise higher in the sky and give you a better view.
The moon will rise over London at 20:54 BST, Edinburgh at 21:30 BST and Plymouth at 21:06 BST, so stargazers should keep their eyes peeled for the best view from then.
The Perseid meteor shower started in mid-July but the meteors won’t reach their full illumination until the Earth passes through the bulk of the debris early Saturday morning. Pictured: Perseid meteor shower at Tres Mares peak, in Cantabria, Spain, on August 13 2021
The annual meteor shower called the Perseids may also be visible with the naked eye that evening, but it is actually due to peak the following night.
Known as the ‘fiery tears of Saint Lawrence’, the celestial event takes place when the Earth ploughs through galactic debris left by the passing of the Swift-Tuttle Comet.
The shooting stars will be visible both north and south of the equator, although those in mid-northern latitudes will be treated to the best views.
The meteor shower is often dubbed the best of the year because of how bright and active it is, with up to 100 meteors per hour expected this year.
Unfortunately, the brightness from the supermoon may block out any view of the meteor shower on Thursday night.
The name ‘Perseids meteor shower’ comes from the fact meteors appear to shoot out from the Perseus constellation – the 24th largest constellation in the sky.
The shower actually started in mid-July but the meteors won’t reach their full illumination until the Earth passes through the bulk of the debris early Saturday morning.
The sparkling treat is set to continue over the Northern Hemisphere for a few days after the peak with reduced activity.
NASA is anticipating up to 100 meteors an hour on August 13 with a meteor velocity of 37 miles (59 km) per second.
Visible meteors will range between 10 and 20 per hour at best, according to a statement from NASA astronomer Bill Cooke, while it would normally be up to 60.
On July 13, a Buck Supermoon lit up skies around the world, as our lunar satellite appeared 17 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than usual. Pictured is the moon rising over lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center in New York, as seen from Jersey City, USA
On the evening of July 13, a Buck Supermoon lit up skies around the world, as our lunar satellite appeared 17 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than usual.
July’s moon gets its name because male deer shed and regrow their antlers around this time of year.
Other names, often given by Native American tribes, include green corn moon, hoer moon, birth moon, egg laying moon, honey moon and mead moon.
After August’s supermoon, the next one won’t be visible until August 1 2023, but another one will appear later that month on August 31.
FULL MOON, SUPERMOON, BUCK MOON: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
A FULL MOON is the phase of the moon in which its whole disc is illuminated.
During the 29.5-day lunar cycle, we observe a new moon (with 0 per cent illumination), a waxing moon (when the amount of illumination on the moon is increasing), a full moon (100 per cent illumination) and then a waning moon (when its visible surface area is getting smaller).
Because our modern calendar isn’t quite in line with the Moon’s phases, sometimes we get more than one full Moon in a month. This is commonly known as a blue moon.
Meanwhile, a SUPERMOON is when the full moon nearly coincides with perigee – the point in the orbit of the moon at which it is nearest to the Earth.
This means a supermoon can appear as much as 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than normal, when viewed from Earth, depending on the time of year.
There are about three or four supermoons per year, most astronomy websites claim, and they happen at different times each year.
Lastly, STURGEON MOON simply refers to the time of the year the full moon is appearing.
Different months of the year have different nicknames – so January is Wolf Moon, February is Snow Moon, March is Worm Moon, April is Pink Moon and July is Buck Moon.
Full moon names were historically used to track the seasons and therefore are closely related to nature.
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