July's Full Buck Moon, the 1st of 4 supermoons this summer, rises tonight

Update for July 4: The Full Buck Moon of July thrilled skywatchers around the world. See amazing photos and video in our full recap story.

July's full moon, also known as the Buck Moon, rises tonight (July 3) as a supermoon. 

An exciting event for skywatchers, supermoons see the lunar disk appearing larger and brighter in the night sky, but the Buck Moon of 2023 will be even more thrilling as it kicks off a season of four supermoons in a row.  Supermoons can lead to a 30% brightening of the moon and a 14% increase in the lunar disk as seen from Earth, but these differences usually aren't noticeable with the unaided eye unless one pays a lot of attention to the moon nightly.

Supermoons are the result of the moon being closer to Earth at the time of a full moon. Eclipse expert and retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espanak told Space.com that during the July Buck Moon, the moon will be just 224,895 miles (361,934 kilometers) from Earth in comparison to its average distance of around 238,000 miles (382,900 km).

Related: Supermoon: What is it and when does it occur?
Read more: Full moon calendar 2023: When to see the next full moon


A Celestron telescope on a white background

(Image credit: Celestron)

Looking for a telescope to see the four supermoons this summer? We recommend the Celestron Astro Fi 102 as the top pick in our best beginner's telescope guide.  

Supermoons occur because the orbit of the moon around Earth is not a perfect circle; as a result of Earth's gravitational influence, the moon's orbit is elliptical, appearing like an elongated circle or oval. This means there are times in the moon's 27-day orbit that it is closer to Earth and other times that it is further away. A supermoon happens when the moon is both in the full moon phase of its 29.5 day lunar cycle and is at perigee, the closest point to Earth in its orbit. 

According to In the Sky from New York, July's Full Buck Moon will rise at 7:10 p.m. EDT (2310 GMT) on Monday (July 3) and will set at 4:33 a.m. EDT (0833 GMT) on Tuesday (July 4).

After July, the next supermoon will rise on Tuesday, August 1 in the form of the Full Sturgeon Moon. Espanak said that during this supermoon, the distance between Earth and its natural satellite will be 222,158 miles (357,530 km).

August will see a second supermoon in the form of the Blue Moon on Aug. 30. This will be a particularly special event for moonwatchers as it will see the moon at its closest during this "supermoon summer" period, at just 222,043 miles (357,344 km) away.

Just after summer 2023 draws to a close on Sept. 23, so too does this festival of supermoons, which ends on Sept. 28 with the rise of September's Full Corn Moon when the moon will be 224,657 miles (361,552 km) from Earth. 

The Full Corn Moon will also mark the final supermoon of 2023, with the next supermoon scheduled to fall on Sept. 18, 2024, according to In the Sky. Next year will only have two supermoons, with the next after September occurring a month later on Oct. 18, 2024.

If you are hoping to catch a look at the Buck Moon or other supermoons, our guides to the best telescopes and best binoculars are a great place to start.

If you're looking to snap photos of the moon and the night sky in general, check out our guide on how to photograph the moon, as well as our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography.

Editor's Note: If you snap an image of July's Full Buck Moon, and would like to share it with Space.com's readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to spacephotos@space.com. 

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Robert Lea
Senior Writer

Robert Lea is a science journalist in the U.K. whose articles have been published in Physics World, New Scientist, Astronomy Magazine, All About Space, Newsweek and ZME Science. He also writes about science communication for Elsevier and the European Journal of Physics. Rob holds a bachelor of science degree in physics and astronomy from the U.K.’s Open University. Follow him on Twitter @sciencef1rst.