Rare ‘super blue moon’ happening for the first time in 14 years
A super blue moon will light up Australian skies for the first time in 14 years – but despite its name, the rare astrological event won’t make the moon turn blue
READING LEVEL: GREEN
Stargazers are in for a treat as two rare moons combine in one spectacular show this week.
A supermoon will combine with a blue moon for the first time in 14 years to create a “super blue moon”.
The astronomical event will appear in Australian skies on August 31 and likely won’t happen again for at least another 10 years.
The full moon will happen during the Hindu festival Raksha Bandhan, also called Rakhi or Rakhi Purnima.
The festival celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters, and is commemorated by the tying of a cotton bracelet.
Saturn – near to its brightest state – will also appear close to the moon during the super blue moon, according to NASA.
WHAT IS A SUPER BLUE MOON?
A super blue moon is an astronomical event where a blue moon and a supermoon happen at the same time.
WILL THE MOON TURN BLUE?
Despite its name, a blue moon is not actually blue in colour. In this case, it refers to a rare event where there is a second full moon in one month.
The moon takes 29.5 days to complete a cycle, and since most calendar months last 30 or 31 days, there is usually only one full moon each month.
Sometimes, when a full moon occurs right at the start of the month, there is just enough time for a second full moon to happen at the end of the month.
Blue moons are rare events that only happen every two or three years – which is why the term “once in a blue moon” means something that doesn’t happen very often.
WHAT IS A SUPERMOON?
A supermoon is when the moon’s orbit is closest to Earth at the same time that it is full, making the moon appear much larger than usual.
“Because the moon’s orbit is not a perfect circle, it moves closer and further away from Earth throughout the year,” Weatherzone states.
“At its closest point to Earth, the moon can appear about six to seven per cent larger than an average full moon.”
HOW RARE IS A SUPER BLUE MOON?
According to NASA, the time between super blue moons can vary greatly, with the last one occurring 14 years ago. Sometimes they only happen every 20 years, but the average time between two super blue moons is 10 years.
HOW TO SEE THE SUPER BLUE MOON
The moon will be at its biggest just before midday in Australian skies on August 31 and unfortunately won’t be visible.
But stargazers will still see the moon appear larger and brighter when it begins to rise from 5.46pm on Thursday.
Swinburne University’s Dr Sara Webb told The Guardian the moon will also look “exceptionally full” on Wednesday and Friday.
The super blue moon follows the first full moon of August and late July, traditionally known as a “sturgeon moon”. An August full moon is named after the sturgeon, a type of fish, because of the discovery of hundreds of these fish in North America’s Great Lakes in August hundreds of years ago.
OTHER FULL MOONS THIS YEAR
While there are no more super blue moons this year, there are another four full moons to look forward to until Christmas.
The remaining full moons are:
September 29: Harvest moon
October 28: Hunter’s moon
November 27: Beaver moon
December 26: Cold moon
- astronomical: relating to astronomy, the study of space and celestial objects like the moon and stars
- commemorated: celebrated
- progression: movement and change
- visible: can be seen
- exceptionally: standing out as usual or special
1. What is a blue moon?
2. Why are super blue moons considered special?
3. On average, how often do super blue moons occur?
4. What time will the August 31 super blue moon appear at its biggest?
5. What was the first full moon this August called?
LISTEN TO THIS STORY
1. Think of a better name
If the ‘Blue Moon’ is not actually blue, do you think it should be given another name? Use the information in the story, and your imagination, to decide on a new name for this event. Write detailed sentences explaining why your new name is much better than “Blue Moon.”
Time: allow 20 minutes for this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science
Create a diagram. You cannot use any words. The purpose of your diagram is to help other kids understand how and why a super blue moon event takes place.
Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Science
Literacy game: Supermoon adventure story
Create an imaginative adventure story using key details from the article and exploring language features.
1. Students need to sit in a circle made up of about 4-5 students. Ask them to decide the order in which each person will add a sentence to the story. (You can start with a volunteer or come up with a fun way to choose the first storyteller- paper, scissors, rock, is always a hit).
2. Start the story with a sentence about the night sky and introduce the idea of a super blue moon.
Example Story Starter: “On a clear night, a group of stargazers gathered in the park, their eyes fixed on the sky, waiting for something magical to happen.”
3. Then ask the students to continue your story by going around the circle, with each person adding a new sentence to build the adventure story. Challenge them to use descriptive language to make their story exciting and imaginative.
4. Next, challenge them to try and include at least two details or language from the article in their story. For example, mention the Hindu festival Raksha Bandhan or Saturn appearing close to the moon, or using the words “super blue moon,” “full moon,” “super moon,” “stargazers,” or any other interesting words from the article.
5. Finish the story with an exciting ending that relates to the super blue moon. Or you could end with their stories with the moon disappearing, the characters having an adventure under the moonlight, or any other creative ending.
Ask more capable or older students to add a scribe to the group that will record the story as it is told.
– Once the story is complete, read it aloud to the group.
– Listen to your friends’ imaginative ideas and enjoy the adventure you’ve created together!
Remember, the goal is to have fun and for the students to let their imaginations run wild while incorporating the details from the article into their adventure story!