Astronomy and SpaceScience

Celestial Double Delight: Witness Two Supermoons this August

This August, the night sky has a special treat for us Filipinos. Not just one, but TWO supermoons will grace our skies, promising double the stargazing fun. Let’s dive into the magic of these moons and their stories.

1. Full Sturgeon Moon – August 2, 2023

The first supermoon, known as the Sturgeon Moon, will reach its peak on the afternoon of August 2. As the sun sets and the city lights of Manila dim, look towards the southeast to catch a glimpse of this magnificent moon. But why the name “Sturgeon”?

History of the Sturgeon Moon

The name originates from the Native American tribes, particularly those around the Great Lakes. August was the month when the giant sturgeon fish were most readily caught. These fascinating creatures, often called “living fossils,” have been around for about 136 million years! Just like our very own butanding or whale sharks, sturgeons are gentle giants, stirring up the mud and silt in search of food.

2. Blue Moon at Perigee – August 31, 2023

Later in the month, on August 31, a second supermoon will rise. This one’s special—it’s a Blue Moon at Perigee! But don’t be fooled; it won’t actually appear blue. The term “Blue Moon” is used when two full moons occur in a single month. And guess what? This Blue Moon will be the closest, biggest, and brightest supermoon of 2023!

Why “Blue Moon”?

The term “Blue Moon” has nothing to do with its color. It’s a name given when there are two full moons in a single month. It’s a rare occurrence, hence the saying “once in a blue moon.” According to PAGASA’s Astronomical Diary, when two full moons close to perigee occur in the same calendar month, the second full moon is termed a Super Blue Moon. This phenomenon only happens every 2.8 years, making it a truly rare event. During perigee, the Moon appears slightly brighter and larger than the usual full Moon.

For us Filipinos, the moon has always been a source of wonder. From our folktales of the “bunny on the moon” to our romantic kundiman songs, the moon has been a constant companion. August is indeed a special month for all stargazers, especially here in the Philippines. With the Sturgeon Moon and the Super Blue Moon lighting up our nights, it’s the perfect time to reconnect with nature, our heritage, and each other. So, mark your calendars, and let’s celebrate the magic of the supermoons.

SOURCE: PAGASA, Old Farmer’s Almanac

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