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Super blue moon: Best photos from rare lunar event around the world

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 30: A full blue moon rises behind the Royal Liver Building and the Liver Bird statues on August 30, 2023 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. In addition to its
The super blue moon rises behind the Royal Liver Building and the Liver Bird statues in Liverpool on Wednesday. (Getty)

A rare super blue moon appeared over the UK overnight, treating stargazers to a spectacular display which won’t be repeated this decade.

A blue moon refers to the second full moon in a calendar month (a rare event in itself), while a super blue moon is where the moon is closer to Earth, appearing bigger.

The moon appears larger than usual, and it was expected to rise at around 8pm (BST) on Thursday to then set at around 6am (BST) the following day, but it shone on Wednesday night.

NASA says that the moon will appear full for three days around the peak – until Friday morning.

The best time to catch a glimpse is when your local conditions are best suited to a clear sky – low cloud cover, favourable weather, and no obstructions on the horizon – such as buildings or trees.

Super blue moon: Incredible pictures

The super blue moon sets behind the Humber Refinery in South Killingholme. The blue moon refers to the second full moon in one calendar month, which occurs approximately once every two or three years. This one is also supermoon - when the Earth's natural satellite will appear about 14% bigger and 30% brighter in the sky as it reaches its closest point to Earth. Picture date: Thursday August 31, 2023.
The super blue moon over Humber Refinery, South in North Lincolnshire. (PA)
August 31, 2023: ISTANBUL, TURKEY - AUGUST 31: A rare Super Blue Moon rises over Istanbul's famous Hagia Sophia Mosque and Bosphorus with foreground plan on August 31, 2023 in Istanbul, Turkey. The rare super moon is an occurrence which won't happen again until 2037, the term ''Blue Moon'' does not refer to the color of the moon, but is the term used to signify the second full moon in a month. (Credit Image: © Tolga Ildun/ZUMA Press Wire) EDITORIAL USAGE ONLY! Not for Commercial USAGE!
Hagia Sophia Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey. (PA)
The super blue moon sets between the Balmoral Clock and the Scott Monument in Edinburgh. The blue moon refers to the second full moon in one calendar month, which occurs approximately once every two or three years. This one is also supermoon - when the Earth's natural satellite will appear about 14% bigger and 30% brighter in the sky as it reaches its closest point to Earth. Picture date: Thursday August 31, 2023.
Scott Monument, Edinburgh, Scotland. (PA)
A super moon rises behind Arthur Ashe Stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023, in New York. A rare blue supermoon — the closest full moon of the year — dazzled stargazers Wednesday night. It was the second full moon of August, thus the blue label. And it was unusually close to Earth, therefore a supermoon. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Arthur Ashe Stadium, Queens, New York. (PA)
Sheerness, Kent, UK. 30th Aug, 2023. UK Weather: the stunning full super blue moon seen above Santus Circus tent in Sheerness, Kent this evening. Credit: James Bell/Alamy Live News
Sheerness, Kent. (Alamy)
The Super Blue Moon is visible over the stands as the teams walk off after the first Vitality IT20 match at the Seat Unique Riverside, County Durham. Picture date: Wednesday August 30, 2023.
Seat Unique Riverside, County Durham. (PA)
The August Super Blue Moon sets behind a spire of the Duomo gothic cathedral in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. The cosmic curtain rises Wednesday night with the second full moon of the month, the reason it is considered blue. It is dubbed a supermoon because it is closer to Earth than usual, appearing especially big and bright.(AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
The Duomo gothic cathedral, Milan, Italy. (AP)
The August Super Blue Moon sets behind a historical building and the St. Basil's Cathedral, right, as people walk in Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023. The cosmic curtain rises Wednesday night with the second full moon of the month, the reason it is considered blue. It is dubbed a supermoon because it is closer to Earth than usual, appearing especially big and bright. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Red Square, Moscow, Russia. (AP)
A view shows a full moon known as the 'Blue Moon' over de city of Porto Alegres, Rio Grande do Sul state, Brazil, August 30, 2023. REUTERS/Diego Vara
Porto Alegres, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. (Reuters)
A rare super moon rises over the market town of Marazion, Cornwall 30/08/2023
Marazion, Cornwall. (PA)
Split, Croatia. 30th Aug, 2023. Super Blue Moon is seen over Split, Croatia, on August 30, 2023. Photo: Zvonimir Barisin/PIXSELL Credit: Pixsell/Alamy Live News
Split, Croatia. (Alamy)
Prague, Czech Republic. 30th Aug, 2023. The so-called blue moon, pictured on August 30, 2023, in Prague, Czech Republic. This is the second super full moon in August, i.e. the full moon at which the Moon is the largest in angle in the year. Credit: Ondrej Deml/CTK Photo/Alamy Live News
Prague, Czech Republic. (Alamy)

What is a supermoon?

Supermoons are when the moon is closest in its orbit to the Earth, making it appear bigger and brighter than usual.

This month there will have been two supermoons – one on Tuesday, 1 August and another again on Wednesday, 30 August.

Dr Greg Brown, astronomer at Royal Observatory Greenwich, said: “August brings the joining of two rare events in astronomy: a blue moon and a supermoon.

“However, both events have somewhat complicated definitions, and none are universally accepted.

“The most common definition of a blue moon is that it is the second full moon in one calendar month.”

August is the first time in five years that two supermoons have appeared in the same month – which won’t happen again until 2037, astronomers believe.

Brown added: ”A supermoon, on the other hand, is a full moon that occurs when the moon is in the closest part of its orbit around the Earth, though exactly how close it needs to be to make it ‘super’ is up for debate.

“During this time, the Moon will appear a little bigger and brighter than it normally does, though the difference is hard to spot by eye.”

A spectacular supermoon captured over the UK in 2018 (Getty images)
A spectacular supermoon captured over the UK in 2018 (Getty images)

Supermoons (or perigean full moons) can be up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than normal full moons – and are closer due to the Moon’s wonky orbit.

The term ‘supermoon’ was coined in 1979, with NASA saying: “When a full moon appears at perigee [its closest point to Earth] it is slightly brighter and larger than a regular full moon – and that's where we get a ‘supermoon’.”

Astronomer Professor Don Pollacco, from the department of physics at the University of Warwick, said: “One of the flukes of nature is that the apparent size of the moon can be very similar to that of the sun.

“This occurs because, while the moon is much smaller than the sun, it is much closer to the Earth.”

Adding that the moon has and elliptical orbit around the Earth, he continued: “Now that we understand the Moon’s orbit around the Earth we can talk about super moons.

“These occur when there is a full moon at the time when the moon is closest to the Earth.

“Consequently, the moon can look bigger (10-15%) and brighter (25-30%) than a normal full moon.”

This blue moon was even closer to Earth, at 222,043 miles away, making it appear bigger in the sky.

This compares with a distance of about 252,088 miles when the moon is at its furthest point from Earth.

What is a blue moon?

A blue moon is essentially the second full moon in a calendar month, which only happens roughly every two-and-a-half years, says Catherine Heymans, astronomer royal for Scotland.

Heymans said: "The astronomical definition of a blue moon is slighty more complicated. Basically it's roughly when there are two moons in a calendar month, which is happening in August

"It's a special time where you've got two in the same month."

This month, even more special is the fact the blue moon event is combined with two supermoons.