Cool Moon Tonight? Not So Fast

Tonight's Super Blue Moon is one of the biggest astronomical events of the year, but its timing is terrible.

Cool Moon Tonight? Not So Fast
The Super Blue Moon rises in Singapore on August 30, 2023. Photo:Getty Images

Wednesday night, the space between Earth and the Moon will shrink, and all of us insignificant Earthlings will be treated to a celestial phenomenon that won’t happen again for more than a decade: a Super Blue Moon.

This moon, which, according to NASA, will appear about 14% bigger than usual, is considered “super” because of how close it is to Earth and “super blue” because of how rare it is to have two full moons in one month; we saw a full moon back on August 1, too. If you haven’t already made the connection, this is where the phrase “once in a blue moon” comes from. (The term “blue moon” was coined by Sky & Telescope Magazine in 1946 for the second full moon of the month, after an amateur astronomer made a fuck up that no one ever really corrected.) And, if you’re into astrology, this Super Blue Moon is moving through Pisces, making it an especially powerful time for connection and healing. (In other words, the spiritual vibes are…super…good !)

But, for all its ethereal lore and majestic promise, the last Super Blue Moon until 2037 could potentially wreak even more havoc on areas in the South currently facing the wrath of Hurricane Idalia.

“I would say the timing is pretty bad for this one,” Brian Haines, head meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Charleston, South Carolina, told the Associated Press. The Category 3 storm made landfall at 7:45 a.m. local time Wednesday morning, but meteorologists are warning that the worst is yet to come as the Super Blue Moon rises tonight. Since it’s so close to Earth, this moon’s gravitational pull is significantly stronger, which makes the tides even higher and threatens to worsen flooding.

Florida is already facing record storm surges, according to CNN, with at least one area of the Gulf Coast, Big Bend, reporting the strongest wind gusts it’s seen in 125 years. Idalia is expected to continue pounding Florida and will also likely hit Georgia, and Haines’ office warned Charleston residents that Low Country cities could be underwater by night.

“As usual, the wearing of suitably celebratory celestial attire is encouraged in honor of the full Moon,” NASA’s Solar Systems Exploration wrote in its news post about the Super Blue Moon. “Take care of your siblings, let go of grudges, and here’s wishing you a good year!” So, for folks outside of Florida, Georgia, or South Carolina: Enjoy the show, but maybe spare your Southern-located friends any Instagram captions about the Super Blue Moon leaving you inspired, in awe, or refreshed.

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