All Weather News

The Supermoon Puts on a Super Show

11 Aug 2014, 4:08 pm

Supermoon_Channone_Arif_Flickr
Photo Credit: Channone Arif/Flickr

Judging by the plethora of pictures on social media, the “Supermoon” seemed to captivate the imagination of millions this weekend. And why shouldn’t it? According to NASA, the August 10 Supermoon was the brightest and most visible of the year. That said, you still haven’t totally missed out on the opportunity to see show-stopping lunar event. Another Supermoon is expected on Tuesday, September 9; rounding out a trio of Supermoons during this summer. The first was on July 12.

But, other than catchy media-dubbed branding, don’t even get me started on “Polar Vortex” what exactly is a “Supermoon?”

In a phrase: It’s an optical illusion. Just not the David Copperfield kind.

According to NASA, the shape, color and size of the moon have everything to with the Moon’s orbit around the Earth and the its position relative to the horizon.

The Moon’s orbit is what scientists call an “ellipse,” meaning the Moon’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle, it’s slightly ovate. The elliptical orbit puts the moon a bit closer to the Earth in summer, than in the winter. Respectively called the perigee and the apogee, the perigee positions the moon about 30,000 miles closer to the Earth than the apogee. The perigee doesn’t have a huge effect on the perceived size of the Moon, but it can act to enhance the optical effect of the moon near the horizon, which is likely what’s happened this summer.

Last Sunday’s “perigee moon,” as it’s know in scientific circles, appeared about 14 percent more luminous and 30 percent larger than normal.

But NASA explains the unknowns of why the moon appears so large, “The illusion occurs when the Moon is near the horizon. For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, low-hanging Moons look unnaturally large when they beam through trees, buildings and other foreground objects. When the Moon illusion amplifies a perigee Moon, the swollen orb rising in the east at sunset can seem super indeed.”

Nevertheless, the spectacular site brought out thousands of amateur photographers and posted their incredible images to social media. We scoured some of the posts and posted them below.

Enjoy!

Meteorologist Alan Raymond

#supermoon last night from the industrial park in #fife #washington #pnw #moon #fullmoon #pinkmoon

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