Tonight’s Full Sturgeon SuperMoon

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The August 2023 Full Sturgeon Supermoon is still low in the southeast about 1 hour after its rising tonight at 01:30 UTC (9:30 p.m. EDT). The teapot of Sagittarius is due south on the meridian at this time, with Antares and Scorpio to the west.

Tonight’s moon is the 2nd of 4 supermoons that occur during the summer of 2023. The next, the 3rd for the summer of 2023 occurs also in this month on August 30. This moon is also referred to as a “Blue Moon”, the occurrence of two full moon phases during one calendar month or the third of four in a given season.

According to lore, August’s full moon is also known as a “Sturgeon Moon”. We’ve written extensively about the lore behind the moon’s names, most of which honor native traditions or coincide with seasonal events. For example, last month’s full moon (July) was the Full Buck Moon since July’s full moon occurs when bucks (male deer) are in full-growth mode. Bucks shed and regrow their antlers each year, producing a larger and more impressive set as the years progress.

August’s moon is named as such because the giant sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during August.

Additional information on the lore of the moon and its names can be found here and here. It also should be noted that each full Moon name is applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred, not solely to the full Moon.

Why is this month’s full moon referred to as a Supermoon and what is a Supermoon?

Kepler’s First Law of Orbital Motion teaches us that all orbits are elliptical, some orbits more elliptical than others. This property of an ellipse, known as the eccentricity, depends, among other things, on the magnitude of the respective masses. All elliptical orbits necessarily have an apogee, the most distant point in the orbit and a perigee, the closest point in the orbit to the other orbiting body. In the case of our moon, a supermoon occurs when the moon is at its perigee point during the full-moon phase. The moon will appear ever so slightly larger simply because it’s closer. This year’s first supermoon was in May, the second was June’s Strawberry moon, July’s Full Buck Moon, the third and lastly, this month’s Blue moon on the 30th.

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