September 30, 2022

Supermoon alert: The last supermoon of the year rises tonight!

Supermoon alert: The last supermoon of the year rises tonight!
Supermoon alert: The last supermoon of the year rises tonight!Supermoon alert: The last supermoon of the year rises tonight!

The full moon of August, known as the Surgeon Moon, will occur tonight (Aug. 11) at approximately 9:36 p.m. EDT and 6:36 p.m. PDT (Friday at 01:36 GMT). 

It will occur when the moon is within 90% of its closest approach to Earth making it a “supermoon” according to Fred Espanak (opens in new tab) eclipse expert and retired NASA astrophysicist. 

We have already witnessed three supermoons this year in May, June and July with August’s supermoon wrapping things up with the last supermoon of the year. Surprisingly, supermoon streaks like the one we’ve seen this year are not particularly uncommon. Per Espanak’s website (opens in new tab), 2023 will also see four consecutive full supermoons, as will 2024. Even 2025 has three in a row.

Unfortunately for meteor shower enthusiasts, the full moon will coincide with the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, upstaging and outshining many of the fainter meteors. Usually, observers in North America could expect to see between 50 and 60 meteors per hour however the full moon will reduce the visibility of meteors to about 10-20 per hour at most according to a statement from NASA (opens in new tab).

Related: The brightest planets in August’s night sky: How to see them (and when)

That being said, there is still plenty to look out for tonight as some Perseid meteors may still be visible. Also, the Sturgeon supermoon will shine about a slim palm’s width to the lower right (or 5 degrees to the celestial south) of Saturn, according to astronomer Chris Vaughan of Astrogeo.ca (opens in new tab), who prepares Space.com’s monthly Night Sky calendar in cooperation with Simulation Curriculum.

A supermoon will appear as much as 30% brighter and 14% larger than usual, and while this may sound like a lot, it’s very hard to spot such a difference with the naked eye. But the supermoon may appear especially large to you if it is close to the horizon in a phenomenon known as the “moon illusion.”

Large orange moon is peeking out from behind an old tower against a mauve sky.

Supermoon behind Horton Tower in England (cropped image) (Image credit: Tom Ormerod)

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Despite what you may think you see, the moon’s width remains the same whether it’s sitting low near the horizon or high in the sky. According to NASA (opens in new tab) this lunar deception may be caused by the brain comparing the moon to nearby buildings or objects, or perhaps it is just wired to process things on the horizon as bigger than things in the sky. Either way, it’s all an illusion but one that makes for a fabulous photo subject. 

Want to capture the perfect supermoon photo? Our guide on How to compose the perfect supermoon photograph will give you some tips and tricks on the best camera settings, how to plan your composition and which equipment to use.

If you’re looking for a telescope or binoculars to observe the last supermoon of the year, our guides for the best binoculars deals and the best telescope deals now can help but bear in mind that during a full moon, the moon and sun are opposite each other and sunlight strikes the moon face-on. As such, it can be tricky to make out particular features on the lunar surface in detail due to the lack of shadows. 

Editor’s Note: If you snap a photo of the Sturgeon supermoon and would like to share it with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to spacephotos@space.com. 

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