An incredible celestial phenomenon graced the night skies last month. It’s an exceptionally rare super blue moon, an occurrence that won’t repeat until 2037. As NASA explains, a supermoon transpires when the moon reaches its closest point to Earth during its regular orbit, appearing around 14% larger in the night sky. However, the term “blue moon” doesn’t refer to the moon’s color, but rather to a unique calendrical event.
A Once-in-a-Blue-Moon Event
While there are multiple definitions of a “blue moon”, the simplest one describes the blue moon as the second full Moon in any calendar month with two full moons. Given that the moon operates on a 29.5-day cycle, occasionally, there’s enough time for a second full moon to occur in the same month.
As NASA clarifies, this happens when a full moon appears at the beginning of a month with sufficient days remaining for another full lunar cycle. This event typically takes place every two to three years.
The Rare Confluence
While the Super Blue Moon was a breathtaking sight for many, some on the southeast coast of the United States had concerns. Hurricane Idalia, a Category 3 storm, made landfall in Florida and hit the Big Bend with destructive winds that haven’t been seen in 125 years.
The Tidal Impact of the Super Blue Moon
The gravitational attraction of the moon as it revolves around the Earth generates tides, so when the moon is closer to Earth, the pull gets stronger. This consequential effect is particularly notable during a supermoon.
In the case of Hurricane Idalia, the Super Blue Moon created a gravitational pull in the same direction as the sun — bringing tides above normal ranges. According to the National Weather Service office in Charleston, this city in South Carolina experienced a four-foot storm surge.