Skywatchers around the world were treated to a rare celestial spectacle on Wednesday night as a blue supermoon illuminated the night sky. A blue supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with its closest approach to Earth, making it appear larger and brighter than usual. It is also the second full moon in a single month, which is known as a blue moon. The last time such an event happened was in 2009, and the next one will not occur until 2037.
What is a blue supermoon and why is it so rare?
A supermoon happens when the moon is at its perigee, or the nearest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit. This makes the moon appear about 14% larger and 30% brighter than a full moon at its farthest point, or apogee. A blue moon, on the other hand, is not related to the color of the moon, but rather to the frequency of full moons in a calendar year. Normally, there are 12 full moons in a year, one for each month. But since the lunar cycle is about 29.5 days long, sometimes there are 13 full moons in a year. This extra full moon is called a blue moon, and it happens about once every two and a half years. The term “blue moon” may have originated from an old English phrase meaning “betrayer moon”, as it disrupted the usual pattern of naming full moons after seasons or festivals.
A blue supermoon is a rare combination of both phenomena, when a supermoon and a blue moon happen at the same time. This only occurs about once every 18 years, according to NASA. The last blue supermoon was on December 31, 2009, and the next one will be on January 31, 2037.
How to see the blue supermoon and where to get the best views?
The best time to see the blue supermoon is when it rises above the horizon, shortly after sunset. This is when the moon appears largest and most impressive, due to an optical illusion known as the moon illusion. The moon illusion makes the moon seem bigger when it is near objects on the horizon, such as buildings or trees, than when it is high in the sky.
The blue supermoon was visible from most parts of the world, except for some regions in Asia and Australia, where it was already Thursday morning. In India, the peak time to see the blue supermoon was at 07:05 IST on Thursday. The moon rose at around 18:30 IST on Wednesday in New Delhi, and set at around 07:30 IST on Thursday.
Some of the best places to see the blue supermoon were places with clear skies and low light pollution, such as national parks, mountains, or deserts. Some people also chose to watch the event online through live streams or webcams from various observatories and websites.
What are some of the cultural and scientific significance of the blue supermoon?
The blue supermoon has different meanings and names in different cultures and traditions around the world. For example, in Native American folklore, the August full moon is called the Sturgeon Moon, as it marks the time when sturgeons are abundant in lakes and rivers. In China, the August full moon is associated with the Mid-Autumn Festival, or Moon Festival, which celebrates family reunion and harvest. In Hinduism, the August full moon is known as Shravana Purnima, which coincides with various festivals such as Raksha Bandhan, Narali Purnima, and Kajari Purnima.
The blue supermoon also has some scientific interest and implications for astronomers and researchers. For instance, the blue supermoon provides an opportunity to study the lunar surface and features in more detail, as well as its gravitational effects on Earth’s tides and atmosphere. The blue supermoon also serves as a reminder of the importance of lunar exploration and research, especially as NASA plans to send humans back to the moon by 2024 under its Artemis program.
The blue supermoon was a stunning sight for millions of people around the world who witnessed this rare celestial event. It was also a chance to appreciate the beauty and wonder of our natural satellite and its connection to our planet and culture.