Starwatchers face a double surprise this week: the rare ‘Super Blue Moon’ Saturn looks from behind.
The cosmic curtain opens on Wednesday night with the second full moon of the month, so it is considered blue. It’s called the Wonder Moon because it’s closer to Earth than ever before, and it looks especially big and bright.
This will be the closest full moon of the year, only 357,344 kilometers away. That’s less than 160 kilometers from the last spectacular moon on August 1.
As a bonus, Saturn will be visible at sunset as a 5 degree bright spot on the upper right of the moon in the east-southeast sky, according to NASA. As the night progresses, the ringed planet will appear to rotate clockwise around the moon.
There won’t be another blue supermoon until 2037, according to Italian astronomer Gianluca Masi, founder of the Virtual Telescope Project.
Gravity pull can be dangerous
The supermoon can create a gorgeous backdrop for photos of landmarks around the world, while its concentrated gravity causes the tides to rise.
This is because during a full moon the Sun and Moon are pulled in the same direction, causing tides to increase above their usual ranges.
The Moon’s gravitational pull gets stronger as it gets closer to Earth, so the tides get higher.
The best places in Europe to watch the wonderful Blue Moon
If you are in the UK and are hoping to see the Suber Blue Bear tonight, visibility depends on where you are in the country.
Oliver Claydon said: “There is a band of clouds moving to the west and southwest tonight. So the best chance for a good observation will be in the central, eastern and northern parts of the UK where the skies will be clear.” The Met Office tells euronews.
“It’s going to be pretty chilly under this clear sky, so dress warmly if you’re going out to take a look,” she adds.
In the rest of Europe, there is a strip of rain stretching from the southwest to northeast France and the Low Countries, northern Germany and Denmark, bringing cloud cover that can obscure the night sky.
There is also cloud cover in southern Norway, parts of central Sweden, and much of Finland.
A similar story is taking place in much of Germany, central Italy, and the Balkans, where storms are expected.
But Spain and Portugal remain almost cloudless on Wednesday evening.