Message from the President

Many people use common astronomy phrases without much attention to their source or meaning.  One of my favorite phrases is of course “the dog days of summer.”  This refers to the rising or first appearance of Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky which happens to coincide with the beginning of August… typically the hottest month of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.   This August we also have a few more Astronomy catch phrases we can employ. The first day of August we have the “Sturgeon moon” which is a Native American phrase to highlight the first full moon in August and a reminder that it was an optimal time to catch the now mostly overfished Great Lakes sturgeon.  Moreover, this August we get treated to yet another lunar catch-phrase and one of my favorite astronomy sayings, namely “once in a blue moon.”  A blue moon refers to the second full moon in the same month and those are rare – occurring about once every 2-3 years.  But this August we are treated to not just a sturgeon and a blue moon, but also to two Supermoons!  A supermoon is a full moon that is at its closest approach to the Earth or in astronomical terms what we call “perigee.”    Two supermoons in the same month of August is however pretty rare, with the next such occurrence not scheduled to happen until August of 2037!    This August we all have two chances to remember to look up and see a supermoon and that to me means these dog days of summer are not making me miss my blue moon!