What is a Supermoon?

5 May

Apparently it’s going to be open season for werewolves tonight. Not because I’ve cracked open the Twilight DVD again, but because there’s something called a Supermoon on the way.

Now, I assumed this was one of those titles that had been drummed up just to add sizzle to the spectacle, but it seems to be a pretty common term in the scientific community as well.

But what exactly is it? I turned to NASA from the answer. Here’s what Dr James Garvin had to say….

Question: What is the definition of a supermoon and why is it called that?

Answer: ‘Supermoon’ is a situation when the moon is slightly closer to Earth in its orbit than on average, and this effect is most noticeable when it occurs at the same time as a full moon. So, the moon may seem bigger although the difference in its distance from Earth is only a few percent at such times.

In other words size does matter.

For the record when the moon is closest to Earth – at its perigee – it seems 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than when it’s furthest away, at its apogee.

Read more at the Christian Science Monitor which also reveals, among other things, that full moons come in different sizes because of its elliptical orbit.

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