The year 2023 is set to be a fantastic one for stargazers. Come August, we are in for an extraordinary celestial treat - a rare blue supermoon. This event, which involves two full moons occurring in the same calendar month, is so rare that it has given rise to the phrase "once in a blue moon".
Although the term "blue moon" might conjure images of our lunar neighbor glowing with a sapphire hue, this is somewhat misleading. A blue moon does not actually appear blue. The term refers to the relatively rare occurrence of four full moons within a season or the more recent definition of two full moons in a calendar month. August 2023 will host a duo of supermoons, another fascinating lunar phenomenon. A supermoon occurs when the moon reaches its closest point to Earth, making it appear significantly larger and brighter than usual. The first of these celestial spectacles will grace our night skies on August 1, appearing approximately 7.1% larger and 15.6% more luminous than an average full moon.
For those unable to witness this spectacle in person, Italian astronomer Gianluca Masi has got you covered. He will provide a live webcast of the moon rising over Rome's iconic Coliseum. This is an opportunity to witness the grandeur of this lunar event from the comfort of your own home. If you miss the first supermoon, don't worry. The second supermoon will occur just 30 days later, on August 31. Interestingly, this supermoon will be marginally bigger and brighter than the first, by approximately 0.1%. According to the Farmer's Almanac, an esteemed publication with centuries of astronomical predictions to its name, this blue moon will be the closest, biggest, and brightest full supermoon of 2023.
Both supermoons may appear slightly orange rather than blue. This is due to the scattering of shorter wavelengths of light through the Earth's atmosphere, which can give the moon an orange hue. The last blue supermoon occurred in 2018, but the next one after 2023 is not expected until January 31, 2037. This makes the upcoming super blue moons in August 2023 and August 2032 particularly special. They will be the only ones of their kind for almost a decade and a half. This is a once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity that you won't want to miss!