This weekend’s Blue Sturgeon Moon was a brilliant sight to behold, and the best photos from around the Northern Hemisphere showcase exactly why it grips our imaginations so.
Sunday, August 22 brought a remarkable, rare Moon. For us North Americans, it’s known as the Blue Sturgeon Moon. Alongside the most beautiful shots of the phenomenon, let’s break down exactly why it’s known by these names.
Above, we see the Blue Moon as she radiates behind the Statue of Liberty’s iconic torch in New York City. It showcases both the moon’s remarkable size and brightness over Saturday and Sunday. As for why we know this full Moon as a “Blue Moon,” this term applies to the third out of four full Moons to occur in the Northern Hemisphere’s summer.
This definition, however, is specifically for a proper seasonal Blue Moon. There are also “monthly Blue Moons,” in which two full Moons come in the same calendar month.
August’s Seasonal Blue Moon Burns Neon Red In Thessaloniki, Greece
According to science and travel journalist Jamie Carter, a seasonal Blue Moon can only occur in the month before a month that will feature a solstice or equinox.
This means a true member of this phenomenon will only come via February, May, August, or November. We saw one on May 18, 2019. A monthly Blue Moon, however, will not appear again until August 31, 2023.
Sturgeon And Lady Liberty: The Beacons Are Lit
As for that peculiar “sturgeon” inclusion in this Blue Moon’s name, that falls down to North American tradition. Sturgeon are our continent’s largest fish. In addition, the Old Farmer’s Almanac says they’re to be caught around the same time of year this Moon appears, too.
Other names for this particular Moon you may have heard include Blueberry Moon, Blackberry Moon, Barley Moon, Green Corn Moon, and the Wheat Cut Moon.
The Moon Of Many Colors
As you can see by the photos above, August’s Blue Moon is, in fact, anything but blue. On the eastern horizon, the phenomenon burns red, to orange, to yellow on its path upward into the night sky.
This is due, as Forbes‘ Jamie Carter points out, to a process known as Rayleigh scattering. Within, oxygen and nitrogen molecules from the atmosphere are more narrow than the wavelength of red light. As a result, said red light can pass through. Blue light, however, cannot. It’s as simple as that!
Our next full display will be September 20, 2021’s Harvest Moon.