(NEXSTAR) – A rare blue supermoon — the closest full moon of the year — dazzled stargazers Wednesday night. Saturn joined the celestial spectacle, visible alongside the moon, at least where skies were clear.
According to In-the-Sky, this weekend will also present a unique viewing opportunity when Saturn reaches its closest point to Earth while directly opposite to the Sun, making it appear large and bright.
This week’s blue supermoon was the second full moon of August, thus the blue label. And it was unusually close to Earth, therefore a supermoon.
The moon appeared to be bigger and brighter than usual, given its close proximity to Earth: just 222,043 miles (357,344 kilometers) or so. The Aug. 1 supermoon was more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) farther away.
But is the moon ever actually blue? According to NASA, on rare occasions, tiny particles floating in the air, such as smoke or dust, can scatter red light waves resulting in a moon that appears blue.
About a quarter of the full moons in a year will be supermoons, but only three percent of full moons are blue moons, according to NASA.
If you missed this week’s blue supermoon, it will be a long wait: The next isn’t until 2037. But another regular supermoon is on the horizon at the end of September, the last one of the year.