When Is August's Supermoon and What Time Will Full Moon Appear?

The final supermoon of the year will rise this week with the appearance of what is known as the Sturgeon full moon in the night sky.

Full moons occur roughly once every month when the moon is located opposite the sun in space, with the Earth in between. At these times, the moon is fully illuminated, appearing like a perfect circle. Technically, the moon only turns full at a specific moment in time, which this month will occur on Thursday, August 11 at 9:36 p.m. ET, or 6:36 p.m. PT, according to NASA.

Despite this, the moon will appear fully illuminated to most observers for around three days centered on this time. Because they are located opposite the sun in the sky, full moons rise at sunset and set at dawn, shining for the entire night.

The full moon in August is often referred to as the "Sturgeon moon"—a traditional Native American name referring to the fact that this period of the year was considered prime time for catching sturgeon in the Great Lakes.

August's full moon is also considered to be a "supermoon"—the fourth and final one of 2022, in fact. This is a non-scientific term popularly used to describe a full moon that is close to its perigee—the point in its orbit when it is nearest to Earth.

The reason we have supermoons is that the moon's orbit around the Earth is actually elliptical, or oval-shaped, rather than perfectly circular, meaning the distance between the two bodies varies over time.

There is no strict definition of a supermoon, but the term is typically used to describe any full moon that occurs when it is within 90 percent of its minimum distance from the Earth.

According to astronomer Gianluca Masi from the Virtual Telescope Project, perhaps the best time to view the full moon is when it rises or sets.

"During the twilight, the residual solar light scattered all around by our atmosphere allows us to admire the scenery, while the full moon rises or sets," Masi previously told Newsweek.

"Furthermore, at its rise and set the moon appears behind monuments and elements of the landscape, generating the feeling that its disk is larger than usual. But this is just an optical illusion resulting from the presence of those terrestrial elements in the line of sight that our brain uses for comparison."

A supermoon above New York City
A supermoon rises behind the antenna of One World Trade Center in New York City on June 14, 2022, as seen from Jersey City, New Jersey. The full moon in August will be the fourth and final supermoon of the year. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Full moons always rise in the east and set in the west. So, if you want to observe the moon as it rises, you will want to find a location with an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon.

For observers in New York, the moon will rise around 8:18 p.m. on August 11. As a result, stargazers in this location will be able to watch the moon at the exact moment it turns full.

For observers in Los Angeles, meanwhile, moonrise will occur at 8:04 p.m. PT on August 11, so the moon will still be below the horizon at the exact moment it turns full. Nevertheless, viewers in this location will still be able to enjoy the fully illuminated moon shining over the course of this whole evening, just like in New York.

(You can use this handy calculator to work out when the moon will rise above your location on August 11.)