By Marcia Dunn
Stargazers are in for a double treat on Aug. 30: 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 (357,344 kilometers) or so away. That’s more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) closer than the Aug. 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.
The first supermoon of 2023 was in July. The fourth and last will be in September.