Are you a moongazer? You should become one in 2023. Over the next 12 months, skywatchers and astronomy enthusiasts will have the opportunity to observe two rare types of solar eclipses, several “supermoons”, a partial lunar eclipse and beautiful conjunctions of the moon and the planets.
Here are seven things you need to know about the moon and its movements in 2023, many of which will result in stunning views.
So mark your calendars and get ready to witness some of these jaw-dropping lunar displays:
1. The Moon will cause two rare types of solar eclipses
A solar eclipse occurs when a New Moon crosses the Sun. This will happen twice in 2023, with both events providing spectacular views of Earth.
On April 20, 2023, a rare hybrid The solar eclipse – a combination of a total solar eclipse and a “ring of fire” annular eclipse – will bring a dizzying short totality to Western Australia, Timor Leste and West Papua.
Half a lunar year later, on October 14, 2023, a “ring of fire” annular solar eclipse will be visible in the southwestern US states from Oregon to Texas, including many US national parks. .
2. There will be 13 full moons in 2023
When we talk about a year, we are referring to a tropical year, that is, the time it takes the Earth to orbit the Sun. It’s 365 days. However, the Moon has its own year which lasts 354 days, the time it takes for 12 lunations (orbits of the Moon around the Earth). Each lunar orbit takes 29 days, so a lunation takes 354 days.
The 11-day shift between a tropical year and a lunar year means that every 2.7 years there is an “extra” full moon in a calendar year.
All that needs to happen for there to be 13 full moons in a calendar year is for the first full moon in any year to occur within the first 11 days – and that’s exactly what happens. This year.
3. May will see a ‘Flower Moon Eclipse’
The second full moon of spring in the northern hemisphere will be eclipsed by Earth. A weak penumbral lunar eclipse will see the full Moon drift into the fuzzy outer shadow of Earth, but only for those in Asia and Australia.
For everyone else, the best time to see it will be moonrise on Friday, May 5, 2023.
4. Four full moons will be “super moons”
A visible “supermoon” is a perigee full moon which occurs when the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its very slightly elliptical orbit. The moon therefore appears slightly larger and brighter in the sky than it does at other times, especially when seen as it appears on the horizon.
There will be four Technical Super Moons in 2023:
- “Buck Supermoon” on Monday, July 3, 2023
- “Sturgeon Supermoon” on Tuesday, August 1, 2023
- “Blue Supermoon” on Wednesday August 30, 2023
- “Harvest Supermoon” on Friday, September 29, 2023
5. The biggest full moon of the year will be a “blue moon”
A “Blue Moon” is only the second full moon in a calendar month, which must occur every few years because the Moon takes 29 days to orbit Earth. However, the summer “Blue Moon” – which will be at its best at moonrise on Wednesday August 30 and Thursday August 31 – will also be the closest full moon to Earth, thus the best “supermoon” of the year.
It will spin at full capacity when it is 357,344 km from Earth.
6. The Moon occults Jupiter
Just before dawn on May 17, 2023, a 5% illuminated waning crescent Moon will move across Jupiter. Later that day, he will occult it.
Since the Moon’s orbital path around the Earth is only tilted 5º with respect to the Earth’s orbit around the Sun and the plane of the solar system, this will happen from time to time.
It will be visible from parts of the Americas and Europe, but only easily for those with powered telescopes. This won’t happen again until 2026.
7. There will be a ‘Harvest Supermoon Eclipse’
The second autumn full moon in the northern hemisphere will also be eclipsed by Earth. It will be a partial lunar eclipse, with the moon sliding into Earth’s central shadow.
This might seem quite strange to those able to see it – this time those in Europe, Africa and Asia – as only about 12% of the lunar disk will “darken”.
I wish you clear skies and big eyes.