Full Blue Moon near Saturn: It’s a supermoon on August 30-31

See photos of the August 30-31 blue supermoon here!

The best thing about stargazing is there’s always something cool to see. For example, on the overnight of August 30-31, 2023, you can see the moon and Saturn pair up. What’s more, both of them are at their biggest and brightest for 2023!

August 31 Full Moon.
The 2nd full moon of August 2023 will occur overnight on August 30-31. And as the sun sets, the moon near Saturn will rise in the east. In fact, you can see them both, all night long, traveling across the sky. To see a precise view from your location, try Stellarium Online. Chart via John Jardine Goss/ EarthSky.

A full supermoon and Blue Moon near Saturn

The August 30-31, 2023, a Blue Moon will light up the sky. It’s the 3rd of 4 supermoons in a row. And it will be the closest (biggest) full supermoon in 2023! It may not look bigger to the eye, but it’ll sure look brighter.

How close is it? The moon will be 222,043 miles (357,344 km) away. Comparatively, the average distance between Earth and the moon is 240,000 miles (386,242 km).

Then, look for a bright point of light near the moon; that’s the beautiful planet Saturn.

You don’t need any optical aid to enjoy this lovely pairing of the moon and Saturn. At their closest, the duo will be two degrees – the width of four full moons – apart.

Saturn just reached opposition

Why is Saturn at its brightest now? That’s because Saturn reached opposition, when we flew between Saturn and the sun, on August 27. So it’s in a wonderful place to see now, rising in the east in the evening and setting in the west at sunrise.

At opposition, the ringed planet shines at its brightest for 2023, at magnitude 0.4. It’s also when Saturn is at its least distance from Earth for 2023. It’s 73 light-minutes (about 8.8 astronomical units) away.

Saturn’s disk size is largest now, appearing 19 arcseconds across. And Saturn’s rings are tilted by 8.1 degrees, relative to earthly viewers. They span 44.2 arcseconds.

Thus, opposition marks the middle of the best time of year to see Saturn, or any outer planet. And any small backyard telescope will show the rings of Saturn.

Bottom line: Look for the full moon near Saturn – it’s a supermoon and a Blue Moon – on the overnight of August 30-31, 2023. Both Saturn and the moon at their biggest and brightest in 2023.

For more great observing events in the coming weeks, visit EarthSky’s night sky guide

August 20, 2023

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Marcy Curran

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