There will be a total of 13 full moons happening in 2023. While a full moon certainly lights up the night sky, the brightest in the night sky are usually the supermoons. A supermoon is based on the distance between the moon and the earth. There will be four supermoons in 2023. The brightest of those will be a “once in a blue moon” supermoon.
What is a supermoon and when does it occur?
NASA defines a supermoon as a full moon occurring at the same time as the moon’s perigee, which is the closest point of the moon’s orbit with the earth.
The moon takes about 27 days to orbit the earth. During each 27-day cycle is a perigee and an apogee, the point where the moon is farthest from the earth.
Below is a list of when each perigee will occur in 2023. Note that the closest distance between the moon and the earth in 2023 occurs on Aug. 30. We will talk later about why that will make for an extra special moon.
To be considered a supermoon, the full moon has to occur when the moon is within 90% of its closest point to the Earth in that current perigee. Roughly three to four supermoons occur each year, usually occurring back-to-back.
When a full moon occurs during or close to the moon’s perigee, the moon can appear as much as about 17% bigger and about 30% brighter. Below is a side-by-side comparison of the difference between a moon at perigee and apogee.
When will the 2023 supermoons occur? Why is the blue supermoon extra special?
Of the four supermoons in 2023, three will occur in the summer — with two in the same month. The final supermoon of 2023 will be at the start of autumn.
The first one will light up the sky just before Independence Day, as it’s slated to occur July 3.
The second supermoon will kick off August on the first day of the month.
The third supermoon of the year will be an extra special moon. It will occur on a “blue moon.”
When two full moons happen within the same calendar month, it is referred to as a blue moon, as in the phrase “once in a blue moon.” What makes the Aug. 30 moon extra special is the fact that it will also occur closest to the moon’s perigee than any other full moon of 2023. The moon reaches full illumination on Aug. 30, just 9 hours after the moon reaches perigee. That full moon will also occur during the closest perigees of the 13 that will occur in 2023. As a result, the Aug. 30 blue supermoon will be the biggest and brightest full moon of the year.
The final supermoon of 2023 will be the September “Harvest” moon, which will take place Sept. 29.
When will each full moon occur in 2023? What is the most common name of each full moon?
January’s Full Moon
The January full moon will occur on Jan. 6. The moon reaches full illumination at 6:08 p.m. This moon is most commonly known as the wolf moon.
February’s Full Moon
The full moon in February is also known as the snow moon. It will take place on Feb. 5. The moon becomes full at 1:29 p.m.
March’s Full Moon
On March 7, the moon will turn full at 7:40 p.m. Meteorological spring begins March 1 with astronomical spring beginning on March 20. As the first full moon of the spring season, it is also known as the worm moon.
April’s Full Moon
The second full moon of spring is known as the pink moon. It will occur just after midnight on April 6, reaching full illumination at 12:34 a.m.
May’s Full Moon
As everything begins growing and sprouting, it is fitting that May’s full moon is known as the flower Moon. This year’s flower moon will occur on May 5 at 1:34 p.m.
June’s Full Moon
We wrap up the first half of the year with June’s strawberry moon. As the month that summer officially begins, crops begin sprouting, including strawberries. The June full moon will occur on June 3 and reaches full illumination at 11:42 p.m.
July’s Full Moon — First Supermoon of 2023
We usher in Independence Day with the first supermoon of the year. July’s full moon is known as the buck moon. It will happen close enough to the moon’s perigee to be considered a supermoon, meaning it will appear bigger and brighter in the sky. July’s full moon occurs at 7:39 a.m. on July 3.
August’s First Full Moon, Second Supermoon of 2023
August 2023 will have two full moons this year, both of which will be considered “supermoon.” The August full moon is known as the Sturgeon moon. A sturgeon is a type of fish that Native Americans found easier to catch in large bodies of water during this time of year. The first full moon of the month will occur Aug. 1 at 2:31 p.m. Of the 2023 supermoons, this will be the second biggest and brightest. It will occur just 11 hours before the moon reaches perigee. That perigee is only roughly 80 miles farther from the earth than the full moon occurring at the end of the month.
August’s Second Full Moon, Third Supermoon of 2023 and a special “Blue Moon”
As discussed above, this is a little extra special moon. First, as the second full moon in the month of August, it will be considered a “Blue Moon,” as in the phrase “once in a blue moon.” It will occur Aug. 30 at 9:35 p.m. As it occurs during the closest perigree of the year, it will also be a supermoon — meaning it will be the biggest and brightest full moon of the year.
September’s Full Moon, Fourth and Final Supermoon of 2023
Meteorological and astronomical autumn begins in September. As the first full moon of the fall season, September’s full moon is known as the harvest moon. It will happen on Sept. 29. The moon reaches 100% illumination at 5:57 a.m. It will be close enough to the moon’s perigee to be considered a supermoon, appearing larger and brighter in the night sky. It is the final supermoon of 2023.
October’s Full Moon
Known as the hunter’s moon, the October full moon will come at the end of the month. The moon will reach full illumination at 4:24 p.m. on Oct. 28.
November’s Full Moon
The final full moon of the autumn season is November’s beaver moon. This year’s beaver moon is taking place just after Thanksgiving on Nov. 27. Full illumination will be reached at 4:16 a.m.
December’s Full Moon
The final full moon of 2023 will be close enough to Christmas to help Santa see those rooftops, if clouds don’t spoil it. December’s full moon is known as the cold Moon, but could also be called the Boxing Day or Kwanza moon this year. It will occur on Dec. 26, reaching 100% illumination at 7:33 p.m.