Local state parks to stay open for super blue moon and Saturn viewing

Super blue moon watchers can see it and Saturn at local state parks this week. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation announced in a press release Tuesday that several Long Island State Parks will remain open at nighttime for viewing of the super blue moon rise with Saturn on the evening of Wednesday August 30 and Thursday August 31.

North forkers have three super blue moon viewing options. The main parking lots of Wildwood State Park and Orient Beach State Park made the list, as did Hallock State Park Preserve.

The press release said there will be no charge for parking and the normal star gazing permit won’t be required. You must remain near your vehicle to view the super blue moon.

The best-known definition of a blue moon is the second full moon in the same calendar month. Since the moon’s orbit around the earth takes 29 days, a blue moon is possible in any month. (February notwithstanding, thanks to quadrennial leap years.) The last one occurred in August 2021.

On Aug. 30, everybody’s favorite satellite will be only 222,043 miles away. The moon’s orbit is elliptical, not circular, which explains the nearly 17,000-mile difference. The closeness earns it the title of super moon.

Saturn was directly opposite the sun on Aug. 26. “This is also when [Saturn] is the closest and the most illuminated,” said Steven Bellavia, research, education and outreach coordinator at the Custer Institute and Observatory in Southold.

“Dress appropriately, bring bug spray, and a chair that reclines. Binoculars are not necessary,” but do make it easier to see the shape of Saturn.

Up-island state parks that will also be open are: Jones Beach State Park – West End 2 (west parking lot), Sunken Meadow State Park – Field 3 and Montauk Point State Park – Upper Parking Lot.