Named by the Native American Algonquin tribe for sturgeon fish more easily caught in the Great Lakes and other bodies of water this time of year, the sturgeon moon ends the 2022 series of four supermoons, which began in May, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. After sunset, look southeast to watch this supermoon rise. It will reach peak lighting Thursday at 9:36 p.m. ET.
“At certain times of the year, the moon is closest to Earth and these are called supermoons,” Mike Hankey, operations manager for the American Meteor Society, said via email. “It’s just a natural point of the moon’s orbit. At each end, the moon is a little bigger or a little smaller (at the farthest point), but it’s not a huge difference.”
This closest proximity is called the perigee and is only about 226,000 miles (363,300 kilometers) from Earth, according to NASA. That’s why a supermoon appears slightly brighter than a regular full moon. The moon’s distance from Earth changes during the month because its orbit isn’t a perfect circle, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
If you snap a cool photo of the supermoon, share it on social media with the hashtag #NASAMoonSnap — the phrase NASA uses to track moon-inspired content in the run-up to the late-summer launch of Artemis I, the first test flight of the rocket and spacecraft that will send future astronauts to the moon, according to NASA’s Tumblr. The agency has shared a guide to photographing the moon and will share content from some users on its social media platforms during the launch broadcast.
The sturgeon moon will steal the spotlight from the Perseid meteor shower that peaks Thursday through Saturday.
“Bright moon phases are bad for meteor showers because they wash out the fainter meteors,” Hankey said. “A full or nearly full moon dominates part of the sky, making that part undesirable for meteor observing. The full moon also lasts all night, so there are no hours of complete darkness, which is preferable.”
The Perseid meteor shower lasts from July 14 to September 1, and this year’s barely visible peak will occur at 11 p.m. ET on Friday (3:00 a.m. UTC Saturday), according to EarthSky. In previous years, the Perseids were a much-anticipated storm in the Northern Hemisphere, where it’s usually more visible. But that’s only when the moon isn’t in a phase that dominates the sky.
This year, the Perseids — which increase in number from late evening to early dawn — were more visible in early August when the moon appeared smaller and fainter. In previous years, they were most visible in a nearly moon-free sky.
The shower fragments come from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which takes 133 years to orbit the sun just once, according to NASA. The comet last entered the inner solar system in 1992.
Remaining space events in 2022
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, there will be four more full moons this year:
- September 10: Harvest Moon
- October 9: Hunter’s Moon
- November 8: Beaver Moon
- December 7: Cold Moon
Other Native American tribes have different names for the full moons, such as the Cheyenne tribe’s “drying grass moon” for those in September, and the Arapaho tribe’s “popping trees” for the full moon in December.
Catch the peak of this upcoming meteor shower later this year, according to EarthSky’s 2022 Meteor Shower Guide:
- Draconids: October 8-9
- Orionids: October 20-21
- South Taurians: November 5
- Northern Taurians: November 12
- Leonids: November 17-18
- Geminids: December 13-14
- Ursiden: December 22-23
And there will be another total lunar eclipse and a partial solar eclipse in 2022, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac. The partial eclipse on Oct. 25 will be visible to people in Greenland, Iceland, Europe, northeast Africa, the Middle East, western Asia, India and western China.
The total lunar eclipse on November 8 can be seen in Asia, Australia, the Pacific, South America and North America between 3:01 a.m. ET and 8:58 a.m. ET. But for people in eastern North America, the moon will set during that time.
Wear proper eclipse goggles to safely view solar eclipses, as sunlight can damage the eye.