Sturgeon Supermoon + Perseids Meteor Shower, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter & Vega
The next full moon will be Thursday night, August 11, 2022, appearing opposite of the Sun in Earth-based longitude at 9:36 p.m. EDT (6:36 p.m. PDT). This will be on Friday morning for the time zones east of Cape Verde time, which includes Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the time zone used by most commercial calendars. The Moon will appear full for about three days from Wednesday morning through Saturday morning. The planet Saturn will appear near the Moon. Saturn will be near its brightest for the year, which will occur just a few days later.
One Moon, Many Names
Some of the most widely known and used names for full moons come from the Maine Farmer’s Almanac, which began publishing Native American names for the full moons in the 1930s. According to this almanac, the Algonquin tribes in what is now the northeastern United States called the full moon in August the Sturgeon Moon after the large fish that were more easily caught this time of year in the Great Lakes and other major bodies of water. This Moon was also known as the Green Corn Moon.
This full moon corresponds with the Hindu festival Raksha Bandhan, celebrating the bond between brothers and sisters. One of the traditions is for sisters of all ages to tie a rakhi (a cotton bracelet) around their brother’s wrist, receiving a gift from the brother in return, as a sign of the continuing bond between them. The term “Raksha Bandhan” translates as “the bond of protection, obligation, or care.”
In Sri Lanka, every full moon is a holiday. This full moon is called Nikini Poya, commemorating the first Buddhist council that occurred about 2,400 years ago, sometime around 400 BCE. In Kandy, Sri Lanka, this full moon corresponds with the end of the Esala Perahera festival, also known as the Festival of the Tooth. It is a two-week Buddhist festival held each year.
The Sturgeon Supermoon
Some publications consider this to be a supermoon, as it is the third closest full moon of the year. The term “supermoon” was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 as either a new or full moon that occurs when the Moon is within 90% of perigee, its closest approach to Earth. Since we can’t see new supermoons (except when the Moon passes in front of the Sun and causes an eclipse), what has caught the public’s attention are full supermoons, as these are the biggest and brightest full moons of the year. Since perigee varies with each orbit, different publications use different standards for deciding which full moons qualify. The full moons in June and July were closer.
The Moon and Calendars
In many traditional lunisolar and lunar calendars, full moons fall in the middle of the lunar months. This full moon is in the middle of the seventh month of the Chinese calendar and Av in the Hebrew calendar, corresponding with Tu B’Av, a holiday in modern Israel similar to Valentine’s Day. This full moon falls near the middle of Muharram in the Islamic calendar. Muharram is the first month of the Islamic year and one of the four sacred months during which warfare is forbidden.
For Science Fiction fans, a note on the author Theodore Sturgeon (in honor of the Sturgeon Moon). According to Wikipedia, Theodore Sturgeon wrote over 200 stories, mostly science fiction but some mystery and horror stories. For Star Trek fans, his scripts introduced important concepts into the series, although only two of his scripts were produced. His Star Trek scripts introduced “pon far,” the Vulcan hand symbol, the phrase “live long and prosper,” and (in a script that was not produced but that influenced later scripts) the “Prime Directive.”
As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full moon. In addition, keep in touch with your siblings, avoid starting any wars, and consider reading some Theodore Sturgeon.
As summer continues the daily periods of sunlight continue to shorten. On Wednesday, August 11, 2022, the day of the full moon, morning twilight will begin at 5:14 a.m. EDT, sunrise will be at 6:18 a.m., solar noon will be at 1:13:20 p.m. when the Sun will reach its maximum altitude of 66.24 degrees, sunset will be at 8:08 p.m., and evening twilight will end at 9:11 p.m. By Saturday, September 10, the day of the full moon after next, morning twilight will begin at 5:46 a.m., sunrise will be at 6:45 AM, solar noon will be at 1:05:11 p.m. when the Sun will reach its maximum altitude of 55.88 degrees, sunset will be at 7:24 p.m., and evening twilight will end at 8:23 p.m.
Perseids vs the Moon
Several meteor showers are expected to peak during this lunar cycle, but moonlight will interfere with the most promising shower. According to the International Meteor Organization, the Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak late Friday night into early Saturday morning, August 12 to 13, 2022. Although the Perseids can be one of the major meteor showers of the year, in 2022 the nearly full moon will make it difficult to see these meteors. Should you look for these meteors, the best time will be after midnight on Saturday morning, you will need to be far from light pollution and other light sources and to find a place that has a clear view of a clear sky with no clouds or haze. You will need to look toward the north away from the light of the Moon. The other three meteor showers peaking during this lunar cycle are expected to peak at 3 to 6 meteors per hour at best (and fewer under urban viewing conditions).