Are you ready for the last “supermoon” of 2022?
While it may have the strangest name for a full moon, there are some good reasons to see our satellite appear on the eastern horizon. Not only will it be draped in beautiful shades of orange — as any rising moon is on the horizon — but the full “Sturgeon Moon” also happens to be the last supermoon of 2022.
Depending on which definition of supermoon you use, it will be the third or second supermoon of the year. Either way, it will be the second largest full moon of the year, thanks to it being 100% illuminated by the sun less than 10 hours after it was closest to Earth in its monthly orbit.
Here’s everything you need to know about the full “Sturgeon Moon,” including exactly when, where, and how to see it at its largest, brightest, and best from where you are:
When is the ‘Sturgeon Moon?’
The full “Sturgeon Supermoon” will take place on Thursday/Friday August 11/12, 2022, depending on where you are. For North America, it’s August 11, while for Europe, it’s early August 12.
Why catch the ‘Sturgeon Supermoon’ as a moonrise?
The full moon is always best seen when it rises. Only on the night of the full moon is it possible to see the moon appear on the horizon during twilight. Because it rises about 50 minutes later each night, it therefore rises in the early evening just before the full moon and well after dark after the full moon.
The full moon looks its best that moonrise because you see it at dusk. This is the only day night of the month when the moon rises shortly after sunset. You are there to watch the moon at dusk, while your surroundings are still visible. Therefore, it is easy to snap a photo of the rising full moon and capture the landscape around it at the same time. You just can’t do that on any other night of the year.
Why Europe is getting two ‘full moon’ rises this month
Since the full Moon occurs just after midnight in Europe, both the night before and after see the full Moon rise just after sunset. Everything is in balance, meaning there are two chances of seeing a nearly full moon appear on the horizon at dusk.
What is a ‘supermoon?’
A supermoon is a full moon that is close to the moon perigee— the point in space when it is closest to Earth during its monthly orbit — making the moon appear a few percent larger than average. More striking is the extra brightness once it has risen high in the sky.
What is the ‘moon illusion?’
Full moon night is the only time of the month when you get to see the disk in the context of its environment. That’s important, because when your brain sees the moon next to trees, buildings or mountains, it compares it in size to it. What happens is your brain makes the full moon look bigger than it actually is. This is called the “moon illusion” and it doesn’t really happen until you see the full moon on the horizon. To do that, your timing has to be perfect.
Best time to see the ‘Sturgeon Supermoon’
Here are the exact times to see August’s “Sturgeon Supermoon” from a few key cities, but check the exact times of moonrise and moonset for your location. If you don’t see the full moon peeking above the horizon at exactly these times, low cloud and horizon haze means waiting a few minutes.
Just after sunset on Thursday 11 August 2022
Thursday night offers the best opportunity to watch the full “Sturgeon Supermoon” rise in a dusky sky:
- In New York, sunset is at 8:01 PM EDT and moonrise is at 8:19 PM EDT (full moon time is at 8:37 PM EDT – so New Yorkers will easily spot it at the exact moment of full moon!).
- In Los Angeles, sunset is at 7:45 PM PDT and moonrise is at 8:05 PM PDT (full moon time is at 5:37 PM PDT).
- In London, sunset is at 8:32 PM BST and moonrise is at 8:55 PM BST
Just after sunset on Friday, August 12, 2022
Friday night offers another chance to see the full “Sturgeon Supermoon” rise in a twilight sky, but only from Europe:
- In London, sunset is at 8:30 PM BST and moonrise is at 9:19 PM BST (full moon time is 1:37 AM BST).
Where to see the ‘Sturgeon Supermoon’
Look east. Move to an observation site with a clear unobstructed view low on the eastern horizon. The Full Moon always rises in the east at sunset (opposite a sunset, or thereabouts) and sets in the west (opposite a sunrise) the next morning.
How to see the ‘Sturgeon Supermoon’
The first full moon of the summer season in the Northern Hemisphere, the “Sturgeon Moon,” will rise in the east just after sunset, shine brightly all night, and then set close to sunrise in the west.
You don’t need any special equipment to see a full moon – your own eyes are perfect. However, if you have binoculars, get them ready for a stunning close-up.
Why does a rising full moon look orange?
A rising full moon looks orange because you’re viewing it through a lot of atmosphere (like a sunset). The physics at play is Raleigh Scattering, where long-wavelength red light travels more easily through the thickest part of Earth’s atmosphere than short-wavelength blue light, which strikes more particles and gets scattered.
I wish you a clear sky and big eyes.