July 26, 2023
SINGAPORE – Singapore’s stargazers will be rewarded with not one, but two sightings of the supermoon in August.
A supermoon is a full moon that orbits closest to Earth, making it appear larger and brighter than usual.
The supermoons in August – the sturgeon moon and the blue moon – will be visible in Singapore on Aug 1 and Aug 31 respectively, said the Science Centre Observatory on Tuesday.
The sturgeon moon is the second of four supermoons to appear in 2023, after the buck moon graced the night sky on July 3.
It will be 357,581km from Earth at its nearest point, making it the second-closest supermoon to the planet in 2023.
The blue moon is expected to be the brightest and closest supermoon to the Earth in 2023. It will be 357,182km from Earth at its nearest point.
Here are some interesting facts about the two supermoons.
Q: How did the sturgeon moon and blue moon get their names?
Native Americans named the sturgeon moon after the large sturgeon fish. During the period when the sturgeon moon is out, it is believed that this fish is more commonly found in the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water in North America.
The blue moon refers to the second full moon in a month with two full moons, which differs from the seasonal definition of a blue moon, which is the third full moon in an astronomical season with four full moons.
Having two full moons in a single month happens every two to three years. The most recent blue moon was seen on Oct 31, 2020.
Q: What time will the August supermoons be visible?
The sturgeon moon is forecast to start rising in Singapore at 7pm on Aug 1 in the south-east direction.
From 9pm, it will reach its optimal height in the sky for viewing, and will continue rising till it reaches the meridian, the highest point it will reach in the sky, at 1am on Aug 2, before it begins to set in the south-west direction.
The blue moon is predicted to start ascending in Singapore at 7.34pm on Aug 31, approximately in the east direction.
It will reach its optimal height for viewing from 9pm, and will continue rising until it reaches the meridian at 12.51am on Sept 1, before it begins to set in the south-west direction.
In preparation for the supermoons in August, hobbyist photographer Bryan Ho started getting ready for the perfect shot in June.
“It’s brainwork and legwork to get the shot,” said Mr Ho, who added that he will visit the location where he intends to take the photo in advance, to see if the shot will be what he envisioned.
The 37-year-old who works in finance said: “You need to stand at the location to see whether you can see the Moon, or if there are any obstacles in the way like fences or potted plants. And there’s also walking up and down to find the optimal floor to shoot from if the location is a high-rise building.”
Q: Will the blue moon look blue?
The blue moon is not actually blue, but there have been instances when it has appeared to be so due to water droplets in the air, certain types of clouds, or particles such as smoke or volcanic ash lifted into the atmosphere by natural catastrophes.
During the volcanic eruption of Indonesia’s Krakatoa in 1883, the moon appeared blue as ash particles scattered red light and acted as a blue filter.
Q: Where are the best places to view the August supermoons?
The supermoons can be seen from anywhere in Singapore as long as the skies are clear and offer an unobstructed view, said the Science Centre Observatory.
Open public areas such as Marina Barrage, East Coast Park, and the Southern Ridges could offer a better and potentially elevated view of the supermoons, it added.
To locate other good spots to view the supermoons, Mr Ho recommends using astronomy apps such as Sun Surveyor or The Photographer’s Ephemeris.
“People will be surprised that their own apartment building’s corridor or bedroom windows might turn out to be the perfect location and not need to travel out,” said Mr Ho.
“The only caveat is you have to pay to use (the apps) fully. Alternatively, Google’s Sky Map is free to use, but it’s not easy to triangulate the position of moonrise.”
Q: Can the supermoons be viewed with a naked eye?
Yes, according to the Science Centre Observatory, these bright supermoons will be hard to miss, unless the skies are particularly cloudy.
“However, it’s worth noting that the Moon’s appearance can vary depending on atmospheric condition and your specific location,” said the observatory.
Q: When is the next supermoon?
The last supermoon in 2023 – the harvest moon – is forecast to be out on Sept 29.