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13 Full Moons in 2023

Sky watchers will get an extra treat this year, with 13 full moons - including four big “supermoons” and one “blue moon.”


Full moon rising over a forest

With the first full moon of the year coming up tomorrow night, astronomers say we can look forward to four supermoons shining in the sky this year, and one month - August - will have two full moons, making the second one a “blue moon” (the second of two full moons during the same month). On average, a blue moon occurs every two to three years, because the lunar phases take 29.5 days to complete. So on occasion, two full moon cycles will occur during one 30 or 31 day month on the calendar.


Supermoons are moons that become full when their orbits are closer than average to the Earth - making them appear to be slightly bigger and as much as 30 percent brighter than ordinary full moons, especially when they begin to rise.


Also coming up shortly: a comet that last appeared in the night sky during the Ice Age is about to make a reappearance. Called by the easily memorable name C/2022 E3 (ZTF), the comet orbits the sun every 50,000 years and will pass within 26 million miles of Earth on 1 February. It could be visible to the naked eye from mid-to-late January, though binoculars would be better. The comet "is now sweeping across the northern constellation Corona Borealis in predawn skies. It's still too dim to see without a telescope though. Specialist smartphone apps and websites, such as Star Chart, Sky Safari, and SkyView, can help you track the comet’s position in the sky.

 

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