2023 Blue Moon

On the 31st of August, 2023, we’ll experience a Blue Moon in Australia. But no – it won’t actually be blue. So what really is a Blue Moon?

What is a Blue Moon?

Contrary to popular belief, a ‘Blue Moon’ doesn’t actually mean the moon turns blue.

The accurate, astronomical definition of a Blue Moon by NASA is the third full moon in a season of four full moons. This is known as the traditional definition of a Blue Moon.

But I’m sure you’ve heard a Blue Moon be described as ‘the second full moon observed within a single calendar month’. Interestingly, this second definition is actually a common misconception. The media brought forward this idea in the 1900s, and it stuck with us into the 21st century.

When is the 2023 Blue Moon?

This year, we’ll experience a Blue Moon in Australia on the night of August 31, 2023. As the second full moon in August this year, the 2023 Blue Moon fits the ‘mistaken’ definition of the Blue Moon. The first full moon for August is scheduled for the 2nd.

It’s a sight almost three years in the making, with the last Blue Moon occurring spookily on the 31st of October, 2020 – Halloween.

Can we see the Blue Moon from Australia?

Yes, we’ll be able to see the Blue Moon in Australia on the 31st of August, 2023.

But not everyone will see the Blue Moon at the same time. With different time-zones and the sun setting at different times around the globe, the Blue Moon isn’t visible everywhere at the same time. For example, people in the United States will see the Blue Moon on August 30 because of the timezone difference.

Can I look at it?

Of course! A Blue Moon isn’t too different from a Full Moon. As long as you have a clear view of the Moon, you’ll be able to look at it.

But it is worth noting that any full moon (not just the Blue Moon) can be very bright. I would recommend against staring at the Blue Moon for an extended period of time to avoid irritating your eyes. If you already have a telescope, you can always use a Moon Filter to safely and comfortably observe the Blue Moon.

What colour will it be?

“Once in a blue moon”, the moon can actually appear blue, but this would be due to the composition of our atmosphere – often near areas with recent volcanic activity. For most of us though, the Blue Moon will show up in that familiar, grey-colour we know and love.

The Blue Moon in the night sky on the 31st of August 2023

Photo by Eileen Rollin

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