Saturn Set To Photobomb This Year's Only Super Blue Moon And You Don't Want To Miss It
The Moon will be at its brightest and fullest as it passes by the ringed planet Saturn in the night sky this week. This is the second full Moon of August, making it the year's only Super Blue Moon.
Saturn comes to opposition of Earth's Moon nearly every year. While it takes one Earth year for our home planet to make its trek around the Sun, it takes Saturn 29.4 Earth years to do so. This makes Saturn's opposition occur around every 378 days, with it occurring about two weeks later each year.
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun, and second most massive behind Jupiter. People in ancient times viewed it as a golden "star" that moved among the other stars as a "wanderer." It was not until the 17th century when astronomers used telescopes that it was discovered Saturn actually had rings.
Saturn's peak brightness in the night sky is virtually coinciding with a rare Super Blue Moon. A Supermoon refers to a new or full moon that happens at around the same time that the moon is closest to Earth in its orbit. This particular Supermoon, on the night of August 30 and into the morning hours of August 31, will actually be the third of this year with one more to occur later, but it is still the year's only Super Blue Moon.
If you are wondering if a Supermoon has any greater effect on the psyche of humans than a normal full moon, the answer is no. While the moon's gravitational pull varies with its distance from the Earth, it depends on the masses of the two objects being gravitationally attracted, according to EarthSky. Thus, because humans are not massively large in the grand scheme of things, the Moon being closer should not have any greater perceivable effects on crazy Uncle Dave.
If weather permits, head out on the nights of August 30th and 31st to catch the third and final full moon of summer. If you have a telescope or a pair of binoculars handy, be sure to get a closer look at Saturn as well. On the night of the 29th, Saturn will be to the left of the moon, and then on August 30th, the ringed planet will appear to the moon's right.