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Heads up, Idaho: There are two supermoons this month (and more)

a collage of three photos, two of them showing a bright yellow moon in the dark night sky and the third showing stars and a shooting star above the tree line.
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In the coming weeks, Idahoans will be able to see two Supermoons, the peak of a perseid meteor shower and a partial eclipse.

Stargazers are getting quite a treat this August - a double feature of two so-called supermoons. The first of which, the sturgeon supermoon, will be visible on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

“It's unusual to have two full moons in a month,” said Dr. Irwin Horowitz, scholar and past president of the Boise Astronomical Society.

He said the moon won’t just appear to be close to Earth, it actually will be by a few tens of thousands of miles.

There will be another supermoon, the rare blue supermoon, in late August. In between, will be the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower.

Horowitz visited with Morning Edition host George Prentice to talk about the latest star show from the cosmos, plus a coming partial eclipse this fall and an exciting total eclipse in 2024.

“The full moon, in this particular case, is at a point in its orbit where it's relatively closer to earth than average.”
Dr. Irwin Horowitz

Read the full transcript below:

GEORGE PRENTICE: It's Morning Edition. Good morning. I'm George Prentice. It's a big month… quite literally… a big month for stargazing…, moon gazing in particular. And there is plenty more to look forward to… or look up to… in the coming days and months. Dr. Irwin Horowitz is here, past president of the Boise Astronomical Society and a welcome addition to this broadcast. Dr. Horowitz, welcome back to the program. Good morning.

DR IRWIN HOROWITZ: George. How are we doing?

PRENTICE: Very well, sir. Well, right up top, let's talk about Supermoons.

HOROWITZ: So, we have a full moon that will occur this evening. And the full moon in this particular case is at a point in its orbit where it's relatively closer to earth than average.And so, it'll look a little bit bigger than your typical full moon. And that's what we refer to as a Supermoon, is when we have a full moon that is a closer than the average distance that the moon orbits around the earth.

PRENTICE: And again, literally… it is closer to earth.

HOROWITZ: By a few tens of thousands of miles.

PRENTICE: Okay. And a real rarity in that we’ll have another later this month.

HOROWITZ: It's unusual to have two full moons in a monthbecause you'd need to have the first full moon, on either the first or second of the month, and then the second one occurs at the very end of the month most of the time. Obviously, you're more likely to get a full moon in the middle of a month and you'd only get one in that month.

PRENTICE: I'm thinking of amateurs like myself… but I'm also thinking of a lot of girls and boys who get a glimpse. And this might trigger some excitement to know more at the very least… and possibly study more.

HOROWITZ: It would. The full moon…some of the features you would see, either with the naked eye, you'd obviously see the so-called man in the moon, which is a combination of the different lighting or reflectivity of the lunar surface. Darker regions known as the Maria appear more like the eyes and the nose and the mouth of a human face, while the lighter, brighter highland region appears to fill in the rest of the face.

PRENTICE: Let's talk about eclipses. There's a huge total eclipse set for next year, but of more immediate attention… our region. I've been reading… should be able to see a partial eclipse this year.

HOROWITZ: That is correct. On Saturday morning, October 14th. So, a few months from now there will be an annular solar eclipse. The path of Annularity will pass a little bit south of Idaho…the very extreme southwest corner of our state. But the annularity path will mostly pass through northern Nevada. But here in the southwest Idaho region around Boise, we will see a partial solar eclipse, but it will be mostly covered at its maximum. In fact, I'm actually looking forward to this because at that maximum point, which will be roughly 10:30 or so in the morning, the sun will look like it has a pair of horns. Like a horseshoe.

PRENTICE: Okay. And then, of course, people, I'm guessing, will be really crazy about next year's big eclipse. It doesn't particularly pass our region, but I've been hearing of people already making travel plans to different parts of North America for this. This is going to be a pretty big deal.

HOROWITZ: Here in the Boise, Idaho area, will only see about a 30 to 35% coverage by that eclipse. That'll happen on Monday, April 8th, 2024. If you're interested in seeing the total eclipse, then you would need to travel from Idaho either to central parts of the of Mexico or somewhere along the eclipse path that runs basically from Texas up through Maine.

PRENTICE: Well, that's a pretty good path. That's millions and millions of people.

HOROWITZ: Yes. It'll pass through some major cities. It'll first hit land in Mexico near Mazatlán. So for those of you who might want to have a nice vacation, Mazatlán would be a good destination. The weather forecasts over there are probably even better than what we'll have in the rest of the United States, because April is not exactly the friendliest month for clear skies. But across Texas, it'll pass close to Austin and San Antonio and Waco, and Dallas itself will be on the path of totality. And then that'll lead into Arkansas and then across parts of Missouri and Illinois. It'll pass just a little south of Saint Louis, and then it'll pass a little bit east of Detroit and through the northern part of New York State and just south of Toronto, and Montreal will be just on the edge of the path as it passes up to the northern part of the northeastern part of the country.

PRENTICE: The Boise Astronomical Society. Tou have viewing parties all the time?

HOROWITZ: Yes, absolutely. We welcome everybody who has an interest in learning about the sky to come and join us, either coming to our monthly meetings, which generally take place at the Anser Charter school in Garden City, just off of Chinden Boulevard, or coming out to our star parties. That typically happen once or twice a month, usually when the moon is not full, which typically take place either at dedication point south of Kuna, or sometimes we might go out to Bruneau Dunes as an event. We have the Idaho Star Party that will take place next month on the weekend… I believe it's September 15th and 16th out at Bruneau Dunes. And then we have opportunities of interest such as with that partial  solar eclipse in October. I believe our current plans that morning are to set up telescopes that are able to safely view the sun with proper filters in Julius Kleiner Park in Meridian.

PRENTICE:. He is Dr. Irwin Horowitz, thanks for getting us excited about these really cool events. Two super moons in one month.

HOROWITZ: Also timely for this month…next weekend, the weekend of August 11th and 12th is going to be the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower. And it's going to coincide with the moon being basically out of the way. So, in the post-midnight hours, you should be able to see a number of meteors if you get out of town to somewhere dark.

PRENTICE: How exciting. Dr. Irwin Horowitz, thanks for giving us some time this morning.

HOROWITZ: You're welcome, George.

Find reporter George Prentice on Twitter @georgepren

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