CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP/NEXSTAR) — Stargazers are in for twice the show this week: a rare blue supermoon with Saturn peeking from behind.
The cosmic curtain rises Wednesday night with the second full moon of the month, the reason it’s considered blue. It’s dubbed a supermoon because it’s closer to Earth than usual, appearing especially big and bright.
This will be the closest full moon of the year, just 222,043 miles or so away. That’s more than 100 miles closer than the August 1 supermoon.
As a bonus, Saturn will be visible as a bright point 5 degrees to the upper right of the moon at sunset in the east-southeastern sky, according to NASA. The ringed planet will appear to circle clockwise around the moon as the night wears on.
If you missed the month’s first spectacle, better catch this one. There won’t be another blue supermoon until 2037, according to Italian astronomer Gianluca Masi, founder of the Virtual Telescope Project.
Clouds spoiled Masi’s attempt to livestream the supermoon rising earlier this month. He’s hoping for clearer skies this time so he can capture the blue supermoon shining above St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.
Weather permitting, observers don’t need binoculars or telescopes — “just their own eyes,” said Masi.
“I’m always excited to admire the beauty of the night sky,” he said, especially when it features a blue supermoon.
However, according to Space.com, you may see more details when viewing Saturn if you use binoculars, including the planet’s pale yellow color and traces of its rings.
InTheSky.org says the supermoon will rise at 7:10 p.m. ET Wednesday and set at 6:46 a.m. ET Thursday. It will peak at 9:36 p.m. EDT Wednesday.
On the West Coast, InTheSky.org predicts the supermoon will rise at 4:10 p.m. PT (2310 GMT) and set at 3:46 a.m. ET (1146 GMT) on Aug. 31.
NASA says that at this time, Saturn will be just days from being its closest to Earth and will appear to be at its biggest and brightest.
The first supermoon of 2023 was in July. The fourth and last will be in September.
August’s first full moon was called the Sturgeon Moon, due to the abundance of this prehistoric-looking fish in the Great Lakes in August hundreds of years ago, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.