In 2023, Maine residents and astronomy enthusiasts across the country are experiencing one of the most remarkable years for supermoons. This year, you have the opportunity to witness four supermoons, each with unique names and characteristics.
The summer kicked off with July’s Buck Moon, followed by August’s Sturgeon Moon. Now, you can look forward to the rare combination of a full moon, supermoon, and blue moon on August 30, 2023, also known as the Super Blue Moon in Maine. Finally, on September 29, 2023, you’ll get the chance to see the Harvest Moon.
Alongside these extraordinary celestial events, you’ve enjoyed other natural phenomena, like the northern lights and the Perseid meteor shower, making this summer one of the most memorable for sky watchers in Maine.
What Is a Supermoon?
A supermoon occurs when the Moon appears larger and brighter in the sky due to its proximity to Earth. To visualize this, imagine the difference in size between a nickel and a quarter, with the supermoon being comparable to the larger coin. This impressive celestial event is a result of the Moon’s orbit around Earth.
The Moon follows an elliptical path as it orbits Earth, causing it to be closer to our planet at certain times and farther away at others. The farthest point in the Moon’s orbit, called the apogee, is more than 250,000 miles from Earth. On the flip side, the closest point, known as the perigee, is about 225,000 miles away.
When a full moon coincides with the Moon being at its perigee, this results in a larger and brighter Moon than a typical full moon. This phenomenon is what we call a supermoon. The term “supermoon” was first introduced by astronomers in 1979 to describe this captivating event.
As you gaze at the sky during a supermoon, remember that it serves as a marvelous reminder of the incredible wonders that our universe has to offer.
What Is a Super Blue Blood Moon?
In casual conversations, the phrase “once in a blue moon” implies something happening rarely. The term “blue moon” has also found its way into pop culture, inspiring song lyrics, movie settings, and even nicknames.
In astronomy, a blue moon fascinates stargazers and sky enthusiasts because it signifies the occurrence of a second full moon within the same month or the third full moon in a single season. However, the moon’s color isn’t necessarily blue during a blue moon. Under certain atmospheric conditions, such as volcanic eruptions, the moon may appear bluish; otherwise, blue moons usually have the same color as other full moons.
A “super blue blood moon” combines the phenomena of a blue moon with a supermoon and a blood moon. A supermoon happens when the moon is at its closest position to Earth, making it appear larger and brighter. Concurrently, a blood moon occurs during a total lunar eclipse, causing the moon to take on a reddish hue.
To recap, a super blue blood moon combines a blue moon, supermoon, and blood moon, making it a rare and captivating celestial event for sky watchers.
Why Is It Called the Sturgeon Moon?
The August full moon is known as the Sturgeon Moon due to the abundance of fish in Maine’s lakes.
According to the Maine Farmers’ Almanac, NASA refers to the full moon in August as the “sturgeon moon,” because Algonquin tribes knew that large fish were easier to catch at this time of year. This full moon has other names too, such as the Red Moon, the Corn Moon, and the Dog Moon.
How Often Do Supermoons Happen?
English: In the span of about 29.5 days, the moon orbits Earth, which is slightly shorter than an average calendar month. As these small differences accumulate, a full moon could happen both at the beginning and end of a month. The second full moon in the same month is referred to as a blue moon.
On average, blue moons occur once every 33 months, which means they can be expected about:
- 7 times every 19 years
- 41 times in a century
Moreover, it’s quite rare when two blue moons happen in a single calendar year – this event occurs about four times per century.
When Will the Next Blue Moon Happen?
You can expect the next blue moon to arrive using two different calculation methods. If you’re considering the seasonal approach, mark your calendars for August 19, 2024. Other seasonal blue moons will follow in 2027, 2029, 2032, and 2035.
For those eager to witness a blue moon occurring twice in one month, keep an eye on the sky in May 2026. The subsequent double-monthly event is set for December 31, 2028.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the optimal time to see the blue supermoon in Maine?
The best time to view the blue supermoon in Maine is when it rises in the east around sunset. Ensure that you have a clear view of the eastern horizon, as the moon may appear larger and more impressive when it’s closer to the horizon.
How frequently does a super blue moon happen?
A super blue moon is a rare event that occurs when both a blue moon (the second full moon in a calendar month) and a supermoon (a full moon that is closer to Earth in its orbit) coincide. This combination does not happen often, making it a special celestial event.
Which are the prime spots to watch the blue moon supermoon in Maine?
Maine offers several fantastic locations for observing the blue moon supermoon, such as:
Acadia National Park: With its dark skies and unobstructed views, this park is an ideal setting for stargazing and moonwatching.
Baxter State Park: Another great destination for dark skies and a serene viewing experience.
Coastal areas: Many coastal towns in Maine provide open views towards the ocean, enhancing your chances of witnessing the supermoon in its full glory.
What causes a moon to be both blue and super simultaneously?
A moon is considered both blue and super when a blue moon (the second full moon in a month) occurs simultaneously with a supermoon (the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit). This combination results in a larger, brighter, and more impressive appearance in the night sky.
How is a supermoon different from a standard full moon?
A supermoon differs from a regular full moon because of its proximity to Earth. Due to its elliptical orbit, the moon’s distance from Earth can vary; during a supermoon, the moon is closer to our planet and appears larger and brighter than a typical full moon.
What are the possible impacts of a blue supermoon on tides and wildlife in Maine?
A blue supermoon can have noticeable effects on tides and wildlife in Maine. Due to the moon’s closer proximity to Earth during a supermoon, its gravitational pull is stronger, leading to higher-than-normal tides known as “king tides.” These tides can cause minor flooding in low-lying areas. Additionally, the increased brightness of the moon may affect nocturnal wildlife behavior, as some species rely on darkness to hunt or mate.
Don’t Miss Your Chance to See the Maine Blue Moon Supermoon
Don’t let this rare opportunity pass you by! With the next blue supermoon appearing in nine years, make sure to grab your binoculars and camera. Keep a watchful eye on the night sky to catch a glimpse of this stunning lunar event.