As seen from New York City, the Full Sturgeon Moon will rise close to 9:30 p.m. EDT (0130 GMT on Aug. 2), and will set at 5:11 a.m. EDT (0911 GMT) on Wednesday, Aug. 2, according to In the Sky.
Because this event takes place while the moon is so close to Earth, skywatchers can also expect up to a 30% brightening of the visible face of the moon. During the Full Sturgeon Moon, the moon will be located 222,158 miles (357,530 km) from Earth.
On average, the moon sits around 238,000 miles (382,900 km) away. But because the moon’s orbit is elliptical, or oval-shaped, the distance between our planet and its companion changes throughout the moon’s trajectory. The exact moment of perigee, at which point the moon will be closest to Earth, happens on Wednesday (Aug. 2) at 1:52 a.m. EDT (0552 GMT).
If you are hoping to catch a look at any of the three upcoming supermoons, starting with the Full Sturgeon Moon, our guides to the best telescopes and binoculars are a great place to start.
And if you’re looking to snap photos of the moon and the night sky in general, check out our guide on how to photograph the moon, as well as our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.
The U.S. will not be the best place from which to see today’s Sturgeon moon, which will reach its peak illumination at 2:39 p.m. EST. Viewers in the Eastern Hemisphere will get a far better view. But by nighttime in the U.S. the moon will still be in the sky, easily—and beautifully—visible by looking to the southeast.
Supermoons have become more common than they used to be—but not because the moon has gotten any closer to the Earth. Rather, it’s that astronomers, as well as NASA, have changed the standards of what constitutes a supermoon, defining it as a full moon that comes within 90% of perigee, rather than requiring it to reach that closest 226,000 mi. approach.
Still, looser definition or not, 2023, is a good year for supermoons, with four of them appearing. There was the Full Buck supermoon on July 3—another Native American name, chosen because July is the time of year male deer grow their antlers. There is today’s Sturgeon moon. On Aug. 30, there will be a Blue supermoon—“blue” being the name given to any full moon, super or not, that is the second in a month. Finally, on Sept. 28 will come the Full Corn supermoon, yet another Native American name, chosen because September is corn harvesting season. Next year, the sky will be stingier with its supermoons, with only two occurring—on Sept. 18 and Oct 17.
What is a supermoon?
The moon orbits around the Earth in an ellipse, or oval shape, that brings the moon closer to and farther from our planet as it goes around. The farthest point in this orbit is called the apogee, which is on average about 253,000 miles from Earth. The moon reaches its closest point to Earth, known as the perigee, at an average distance of around 226,000 miles.
A supermoon is a term used to describe when a full moon appears at perigee. Due to its close proximity to the Earth, the moon will appear up to about 14% larger and 30% brighter during this phenomenon.
The first of two supermoons this month is known as the “Full Sturgeon Moon,” and will rise over the sky Tuesday night. It will reach total perigee the next day, Aug. 2.
August’s first full moon is called the “Sturgeon Moon” because sturgeon were most readily caught by Native American tribes during this part of summer in the Great Lakes area, according to the Farmer’s Almanac. The “Sturgeon Moon” was preceded this year by the “Buck Moon” at the start of July.
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