WASHINGTON, Aug. 27, 2015 — Saturday was the last full supermoon of the summer. Astronomers define the “super moon,” or “mega-moon,” as a perigee full moon, when the moon’s orbit brings it closest to the earth, making it appear larger than usual. When it is at its farthest point from the earth, it is in apogee.
The full moon has to come within 361,836 kilometers (224,834 miles) of our planet, as measured from the centers of the moon and Earth, to be considered a supermoon, of which there are six in 2015. The first 2015 supermoon was the new moon on Jan. 20, followed new moons on Feb. 18 and March 20.
The February and March moons coincided with the Blue Moon phenomena of two full moons in one month. The Blue Moon happens due to the Metonic Cycle of 19 years, when the moon completes its phases during the same month.
Add 19 to 2015 and the next Blue Moon in July will happen in 2034.
The next Blue Moon, however, will take place in 2018. February 2018 will not have a full moon, due to the Metonic Cycle, causing two Blue Moons that year. The first will occur on Jan. 31 and the second will rise on March 31, 2018. And these are due to the shortened month of February.
Blue Moons were not always defined as such. The Farmer’s Almanac calls the third full moon of any season, spring, summer, fall or winter, containing four full moons a “Blue Moon” as each season usually contains three full moons, or a total of 12 full moons per every year.
The full moon supermoons – aka near-perigee full moons – still to come in 2015 are:
Full moon Saturday at 18:35 UTC
Full moon of Sept. 28 at 2:50 UTC
Full moon of Oct. 27 at 12:05 UTC
The full moon on Sept. 28, 2015, will present the closest supermoon of the year (356,896 kilometers or 221,754 miles). What’s more, this Sept. 28 full moon will stage a total lunar eclipse, or concluding a series of Blood Moon eclipses that started with the total lunar eclipse of April 15, 2014.
Supermoons are regular occurrences, happening every 13 months and 18 days, when the moon’s orbit brings it into perigee. The moon in perigee is around 50,000 km closer to earth than when it is farthest away, or in apogee.
A perigee full moon can also impact tides, producing high tides a few inches above normal.
You can visit the Farmer’s Almanac to see the full moon calendar with time/date for your city.
“Nothing in the sky is more striking than the rising of an enormous-looking full moon,” Slooh astronomer Bob Berman said in a statement. “And this will be largest since March, 2011. And although the size-enhancement is 11 percent compared to an apogee full moon like the the one this past January, it will seem even larger — much larger — thanks to the psycho-optical effect we will discuss during the show. And, thanks to the super-tides that day and the following day, Earth’s biosphere will definitely be affected by this event
We call it super moon, but its also known as a “sturgeon moon,” when the super moon heralded that sturgeon fish were plentiful and easy to catch in the Great Lakes and Hudson Bay. Other names are the Green Corn Moon, Red Moon and Grain Moon.
We call it beautiful, and dream inspiring! To see the supermoon, hope for clear skies, and look up.
Send us your supermoon photos and we will add them to our slideshow!
Following are some of our favorite photos — photographer identified when possible; some are raw shots, others are photoshopped art images; either way they are all beautiful