Watching the Skies: This harvest moon is also a blue moon

Watching The Skies

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A blue moon will light up the night sky this weekend. 

The phrase “blue moon” can mean a few different things. In the case of the full moon that will occur Aug. 22, the blue moon refers to the third of four full moons that take place in an astronomical season. There was a full moon just after the summer solstice on June 24, another on July 23 and there will be a fourth full moon of the summer season on Sept. 20 before the equinox. 

A blue moon can also be the name given to the second of two full moons in one month. Most months only have one full moon; two full moons in one calendar month generally only happens every few years.

In some rare cases, a full moon can appear blue. This only happens when smoke or dust particles of a specific size are present in the atmosphere. 

The moon will officially be full at 8:02 a.m. Aug. 22. In the evenings leading up the full moon, look for the waxing moon as it passes by Jupiter and Saturn. The nearly full moon will be below Saturn on Aug. 20 and just below and to the right of Jupiter on Aug. 21. 

The Perseid meteor shower peaked last week. David Aupperlee captured this picture of a meteor as it shot across the sky. Even though the peak of the meteor shower has passed, you’ll have a chance of seeing Perseids overhead for another week. 

A Perseid meteor in August 2021. (Courtesy David Aupperlee.)

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