A few central Albertans were lucky enough to see this week’s blue supermoon turn gold.
During brief periods when the clouds and smoke dispersed, the second full moon in August would have appeared both larger and more warmly tinged than usual — especially at its peak on Wednesday night.
Theresa Tanner of the local storm/sky-watching #teamtanner said a blue moon has nothing to do with its colour. It’s a term used to describe the second full moon to make its appearance in one calendar month. (The first full moon of August was on the first of the last month and the second peaked on the 30th.)
Both full blue moons in August are also considered supermoons, according to the website Earthsky, because they were closer to Earth than normal and, therefore, appeared larger and brighter.
Tanner said the closer the moon is to the horizon, the larger it also appears. Because of smoke and dust particles in Alberta’s atmosphere, the latest super blue moon appeared more golden, or orange-tinged. It was lighter than a blood moon, which occurs when the entire moon falls within the Earth’s shadow and turns a reddish hue.
This week’s full moon was about 357,344 km from Earth in its orbit, which is about 28,967 km closer than its average distance from our planet. Because of the supermoon’s proximity to Earth, its gravitational pull was expected to have a stronger effect on oceanic tides.
Tanner said she saw the golden blue supermoon when it was just about full on Tuesday, but as it was hazy, she decided to wait until Wednesday to photograph it at its peak. Unfortunately, more clouds rolled in and she missed her opportunity.
Many other central Albertans saw a larger golden moon just after it had reached its optimum fullness, once the clouds rolled away on Thursday evening.
The next blue supermoon won’t be until 2037. But sky-gazers can always look up later this year to catch some other interesting full moons.
According to the Farmer’s Almanac, the harvest moon (also considered a supermoon), will appear on Sept. 29, while the hunter’s moon is on Oct. 28, the beaver moon on Nov. 27 and the cold moon on Dec. 26.
A partial lunar eclipse will be viewable in parts of North America on Oct. 28.
More spectacular for people in North America and Mexico will be a total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024. The moon will pass between the Earth and the sun, making the sun look like a black hole with a halo.