A Rare Blue Moon Will Sit Near Jupiter & Saturn This Weekend
The August full moon is a blue moon, but that does not mean it will be blue in color.
You've heard the phrase "once in a blue moon." It's used to refer to something that's exceptionally rare. Well, the full moon in August is one of those rare occurrences. It is a blue moon.
The blue moon will arrive the night of August 21 into the morning of August 22. Though, it's not likely to be blue. The name has nothing to do with the moon's color. Instead, it's used to note when there's an extra full moon in a month or a season. It can get confusing because there are a couple of different definitions for a blue moon.
The last blue moon we had was on Halloween 2020. That was the second full moon inside a calendar month. A full moon occurs about once every 29 days, meaning that on rare occasions, there are two full moons in a single month. This blue moon, as NASA notes, "will be a blue moon by the older definition." That's when four full moons land in a single season. When that happens, the third full moon of those four is called a blue moon. This is the third of four full moons that land over the summer. The last will arrive on September 20, just two days before the September equinox.
What Else Can You See the Night of the Blue Moon?
The last couple of nights have been outstanding nights to look for Saturn and Jupiter. The largest planet in the solar system reached opposition earlier this week, and the following night Saturn, Jupiter, and the moon were all tightly grouped together. They won't be quite as close together the night of August 21, but they'll still be relatively close.
All of August has been a great time to view Jupiter and Saturn because both planets hit opposition this month, a time when they're near their brightest from our view on Earth. The night of the blue moon will be no different.
Ready to go stargazing?
Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in a stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners, the best meteor showers of 2021, or easy stargazing road trips from big US cities.