What is a Super Moon

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"What is a Super Moon"
Caption: Supermoon
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Since time immemorial, the moon has cast its mysterious light upon the Earth. On Sunday, June 22, 2013, people around the world became lunatics as the full moon came its closest to the Earth (perigee in astronomy) at 221,824 miles away from Earth and made it a Supermoon. The farthest distance from earth is 252,581 miles (apogee).

The Supermoon's brightness is not only dependent on its closeness to Earth, but more importantly, on Earth's closeness to the sun. The moon receives more sunlight than average when the Earth is at the closest point to the sun (perihelion). At the sun's farthest point from Earth (aphelion), the night moon is not as bright.

The Supermoon moniker is not astronomical, but originated when astrologer, Richard Nolle defined it in 1979. Nolle's definition of the Super Moon as “...a new or full moon which occurs with Moon at or near (within 90 percent of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit (perigee).” That means it is less than 223,000 miles (359,000 km) from Earth. At that time, it was not commonly used. However, in March of 2011, the full moon came to a near perfect perigee at 221,439 miles (356,372 km) from earth. The astrological moniker, Supermoon went viral. In fact, the March, 2011 was a Super Super Moon which only occurs approximately every three years.

Supermoons arrive every year when the full moon reaches it perigee (or closest point to Earth). The next Supermoon will arrive on August 10, 2014.

A Super Super Moon, which earned the common astrological name Supermoon because of its brilliance is defined with 0.001 percent of its closest possible approach to Earth. The absolute closest the full moon can be from Earth is 221,439 miles (356,372 km) and the absolute farthest is 252,724 miles. That means the perigee would be 221,439 to 221,660 miles (356,372 to 356,727 km) close to earth. The next Super Super Moon will arrive November 14, 2016 when the full moon will be 221,524 miles (356,508 km) away or within 85 miles (137 km) of its closest approach. What name the astronomers give the true Super Super Moon will be given when it shows. Full moon Supermoons are spectacular, but not as spectacular a “Super Super Moon”. Every year, headlines will tout the Supermoon.

The nightlight called the moon has a tremendous impact on Earth. Legends abound around the moon. Man has walked on the moon. Theories try to explain how the moon formed are given. As technology advances, knowledge about the moon and its effect on Earth will expand.

More about this author: Nan C Avery

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