October 3, 2023

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The giant Sicilian moon in the two astronomical images chosen by NASA

The giant Sicilian moon in the two astronomical images chosen by NASA

The two images chosen by NASA as Astronomy Picture of the Day (Apod) on August 30 and September 5 are of a full “Sicilian” supermoon: they were taken by Gianni Tomino and Kevin Zaragoza, both from the Italian Federation of Amateur Astronomers, and both depict the twice-organised supermoon display In August, on the 31st, this latter date, in particular, combined the largest full moon of the year with the second of the same month, a circumstance referred to as a “blue moon.” This conjunction is somewhat rare: the last super blue moon occurred in January 2018 while the next will be in January 2037.

In the Tomino image, taken on August 1, the brighter-than-average lunar disk is captured in a gorgeous sequence showing our satellite rising above banks of dense clouds along Ragusa’s eastern horizon. This was the second supermoon of 2023, a phenomenon that occurs when the moon reaches its full phase and is simultaneously at a point in its orbit that brings it closest to Earth: a circumstance that makes it appear slightly larger and brighter than average.

The second astronomical image chosen by NASA instead depicts the blue supermoon that lit up the night sky between August 30 and 31: a very suggestive shot taken from Zaragoza directly above the Maniaci Castle, one of Syracuse’s most important monuments. Our satellite appears large and white, stuck above a military beacon owned by the Air Force. It is called a “blue moon”, although the diffuse sunlight gives the lunar disk a reddish colour. The second full moon in the same month only occurs once every 2-3 years: this is because the lunar phases take about 29.5 days to complete. turn

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