Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Once in a blue supermoon

Van Morrison, in his song “Moondance,” wrote “Well it’s a marvelous night for a moondance with the stars up above in your eyes. A fantabulous night to make romance ‘neath the cover of October skies.”

With a bit of good luck we shouldn’t need to wait until October for some quality time with the moon.

The first of two supermoons in August is set to appear starting Tuesday night.

Because the moon orbits the Earth in an ellipse, there are times when it appears closer than usual. When the moon is at its closest to Earth, or its “perigee,” and it is simultaneously a full moon, it’s known as a supermoon.

On Tuesday night, August 1, the Moon will be 226,000 miles nearer to Earth. This means that the moon will appear 10% percent bigger and 16% percent brighter than an average full moon

“High tides and low tides will be more extreme with a perigean full supermoon and more so for an extreme perigean full moon,” according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as explained on its website.

“The extremes are greater due to the difference in the gravitational pull of the Moon across Earth’s diameter.”

So, setting the science aside for a moment, do you want to enjoy a full supermoon on the Oregon coast?

Find a high vantage point like Cape Foulweather, Heceta Head, or Cape Perpetua (or anywhere that overlooks the ocean) and look south.  Devils Lake should offer a pleasing view also.

If the sky is clear the moon’s reflection on the ocean or lake should be amazing.

But wait, there’s more! When two full moons happen within a month, as they will in August, the second full moon is known as a “blue” moon.

August 30th will be the only blue moon of 2023. It will also be a supermoon. And it will be even closer to earth and possibly even more impressive than the one on Tuesday.

The last time two supermoons shone in a single month was in 2018. The phenomenon won’t happen again until 2037.

And hopefully if, as Morrison wrote, “…the night’s magic seems to whisper and hush,” you will have a chance to enjoy a Moondance of your own.

Jason Love
Jason Love
Jason is a long-time resident of Lincoln City and former co-owner of the Ester Lee Motel.

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