August has the distinction of having the closest far-moon in all of 2016. What, what, what? Closest far-moon. In other words, on August 10, 2016, at 00:05 Universal Time, the moon reaches apogee – its most distant point from Earth for the month. But the moon is closer at this month’s apogee than at any other apogee in 2016.
For us in the mainland United States, the moon reaches apogee on August 9, at 8:05 p.m. EDT, 7:05 p.m. CDT, 6:05 p.m. MDT and 5:05 p.m. PDT.
At this month’s closest apogee, the moon lies 404,262 kilometers distant. Contrast this with the farthest apogee of the year – on October 31, 2016 – when the moon will lie 406,662 kilometers away.
The moon is also near first quarter phase now. It reaches first quarter less than one day after this month’s lunar apogee. It’s no coincidence that the first quarter moon – and closest far-moon – happen less than a day apart.
In fact, the year’s closest far-moon often takes place in the month in which the quarter moon and apogee most closely align.
The rhythms of the moon result from numerous overlapping cycles. This time around, in 2016, the closest apogee of the year recurs after 15 returns to apogee – a period equal to about 14 lunar months (14 returns to the same lunar phase). Next year, in 2017, the closest apogee will happen after 14 returns to apogee – or in about 13 lunar months. Last year, in 2015, the closest apogee happened on June 23, 2015, and next year, in 2017, the closest apogee will happen on August 30, 2017.
Bottom line: The closest far-moon of 2016 happens on August 10. The year’s closest far-moon often takes place in the month that the quarter moon and apogee most closely align.