The last supermoon of the year will rise in the evening sky tonight.
The supermoon, a term used to describe a full moon that appears larger than it actually is due to its proximity to Earth, is expected to reach peak illumination at 9:36 p.m. ET, the Old Farmer’s Almanac says.
Viewers are advised to look to the southeast after sunset to catch a glimpse of the moon as it rises.
Paul Delaney, a physics and astronomy professor at York University, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Thursday that the “nice warm” weather this month across the Northern Hemisphere should make for a “comfortable” viewing experience for lunar observers.
“The August full moon is always well placed for lunar observing,” he said.
This month’s supermoon is often called the “sturgeon moon,” named for the point when giant sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught, the Old Farmer’s Almanac writes.
The August supermoon is also sometimes referred to as the “corn moon” or “grain moon” for the abundance of crops at this point in the year.
There have been three previous supermoons this year: May’s blood or “flower moon,” June’s “strawberry moon” and July’s “buck moon.”
The supermoon comes as one of the brightest meteor showers of the year, the Perseids, is expected to peak this Friday and Saturday.
Although the supermoon will make some of the “fainter members” of the meteor shower harder to see, Delaney says the Perseids are also known for their fireballs, which will show up even against the bright full moon.
He says, along with giving yourself enough time for your eyes to adapt to the dark, those wanting to see the Perseids should, “just make sure the moon is out of your field of view and you’ll still see a good number of meteors.”
A supermoon occurs due to the moon’s elliptical, or oval-shaped, orbit around Earth, resulting in points when the moon is closer to the planet and times when it is further away.
These are referred to as perigee, or the point in the moon’s orbit when it is closest to Earth, and apogee when the moon is furthest away.
Similar terms are used to describe the points in Earth’s orbit when it is closest to the sun, or perihelion, and furthest away, or aphelion.
When it comes to watching tonight’s full moon, Delaney says a good pair of binoculars can help enhance the view.
Unlike looking at the sun, which is dangerous, Delaney says viewing the moon, even through binoculars, will not hurt you.
The moon will also be visible around the planet, he says. “Everybody gets a chance. They just have to wait their turn.”
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