Manchester City fans are likely familiar with the song ‘Blue Moon’, but tonight could see the club’s followers, and the rest of the UK even, breaking out into song in response to a celestial occurrence. With August coming to a close, a super blue moon is set to appear in the sky.
To be clear, disappointingly, the moon won’t actually be blue. Rather, the particular appearance of this type of moon at this time only happens “once in a blue moon”. In a disappointing contrast to the red-hued Blood Moon, there will be no indigo shades in the sky. Not from the moon at least.
So, what exactly is a blue moon?
A blue moon is a unique celestial phenomenon that finds two full moons taking place in one calendar month. It only comes about due to a special ‘juggling’ of the dates in the year that results in 13 moons in a year, instead of the typical 12.
Essentially the phrase and the lunar phenomenon both speak to the low likelihood of something happening. After all, with a moon’s cycle taking almost a full month to complete, it’s very rare that it would go from a full moon to nothing, and all the way back to a full moon again within the span of a month.
With all that said, there’s yet more for moon fans to get excited about. This is no mere blue moon. Instead, as we might have mentioned, it’s a blue moon and a supermoon all at once. Being a supermoon means that the moon is reaching the point of its orbit at which it is closest to Earth. This portion of the moon’s orbit is known as the ‘perigee’, and is when the moon looks largest and seems to shine brightest. At this time, tide conditions can exacerbate – with low tides unusually low and high tides particularly high.
The last time a super blue moon was seen was all the way back in 2009. In fact, the next blue moon is not predicted to happen until May 31, 2026. The next super blue moon won’t even happen until 2037 according to NASA – when we’ll get two within the space of three months!
When to see the super blue moon
The super blue moon will take to the sky tonight (August 30-31). It will be most visible and bright at 2:35am. However, as long as conditions are clear, it will be a pretty impressive sight all throughout the night.
As an added bonus, no special equipment is needed to see the super blue moon. Just look up!