The Sturgeon moon – August’s full moon – will take the night sky this week, offering South Africans the last supermoon of the year.
HOW TO WATCH IT IN SA:
According to NASA the supermoon will appear seven degrees above the east-southeastern horizon. It will peak on Thursday night, at about 9:36 p.m. EDT (03:30 on Friday morning in South Africa); it will also appear nearly full on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
The Sturgeon moon may outshine another major celestial event on Thursday: the Perseids meteor shower. The most popular annual meteor shower, which is active from July to September, will peak between Friday and Saturday.
NASA suggests the best time to look for the meteors will be after midnight Saturday, and viewers need to be far from light pollution. The agency said you need to look north and away from the Moon’s gaze.
WHAT IS THE STURGEON MOON?
August’s Full Moon is often called the Sturgeon Moon. The Moon’s name comes from the Algonquin tribes who lived in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada, who noticed a rise in sturgeon around this time of year in their rivers.
Various North American tribe names were popularized in a publication we know today as the Old Farmer’s Almanac back in the 1930s, according to NASA. This Moon was also called the Green Corn Moon, presumably because the corn had not yet ripened.
It’s expected that 21:36 will be the peak time of this luminous display.
LAST SUPERMOON OF THE YEAR
The Sturgeon Moon rounds out this year’s parade of four supermoons, which started in May! Supermoons are commonly defined as full Moons that occur while the Moon is at its nearest point to Earth.
Because its orbit is not a perfect circle, the Moon’s distance from Earth changes throughout the month.
Supermoons are ever-so-slightly closer to Earth than the average full Moon, which technically makes them extra large and bright from Earth’s perspective.
WHY IS IT CALLED A SUPERMOON?
Whenever the satellite reaches its closest point to Earth in an annual orbit, the moon appears bigger and brighter than it does normally. For the next few nights, the difference will appear significant – with the cosmic rock looking about 10% to 15% larger, and 30% more luminous.
Last month we saw the Super Buck Moon – which was the largest SUPERMOON of the year.
WHERE DOES THE NAME SUPER BUCK MOON COME FROM?
This isn’t just a Supermoon, remember: It’s a Super Buck Moon! That additional word in the middle can be attributed to the time of year. In July, the deer of North America begin growing their new antlers. Farmers, woodsmen, and other nature types have been using this term for over 100 years.