Beginning the night of July 12, the moon will seem bigger than normal as the first in a series of supermoons begin appearing. Astronomers expect five supermoons during the current year of 2014, but only three are expected to be visible. NASA says that there will be three supermoons appearing later this summer.
A supermoon is defined technically as perigee-syzygy, or a full moon that occurs when the moon is closest to the earth in its orbit. It is normally expected to appear 14 percent larger, and up to 30 percent brighter than normal. Supermoons coincide with full moons and new moons, and the other visible occurrences are expected on Aug. 10 and Sept. 9 of this year. The supermoon that occurs on Saturday, July 12 is also known as the Thunder Moon or Buck Moon, and is actually more than 222,000 miles from earth, which is 30,000 miles closer than it is normally. On August 10, of this year 2014, the moon may be at least 800 miles closer making it appear even larger.
Supermoons are not a new occurrence, but it appears that mentions have increased, especially on social media. Several groups that have been formed on social networks and have been focused activities around the appearance of supermoons. Last year, supermoons occurred three times in a row, however only one drew much attention.
The term supermoon was coined almost three decades ago by astrologer Richard Nolle, who described a supermoon as a new or full moon, when it is within 90 percent of the closest distance to the earth in its elliptical orbit. The dates and times for the appearance of supermoons have already been announced, and observers may be fortunate enough see the other planets of Saturn and Mars during the night.
Astronomers and observers say that the best photographs are obtained when the moon is setting or rising, but add that it may in fact be an optical illusion, when the size of the object is resolved as it appears in comparison to the background and the surroundings or visual environment. The best showing for tonight’s supermoon is expected to be around 7 p.m. EST, and the moon that will be seen on August 10 is expected to appear much bigger than the others do, because it is a full moon that coincides with perigee, and experts are expecting what is called an “extra super full moon.”
Officials of the US Naval Observatory say that full moons are at perigee approximately every 13 months, and it is not always easy to tell the difference between a full moon and a supermoon. The brighter moons are often obscured by clouds, and it is not ways easy to discern dimension with the naked eye. The intriguing illusion is not fully understood, but when the full moon is beamed through trees and around buildings, the illusion is amplified and observers can expect the moon to be one of the biggest that will be seen in some time.
Lately, there has been more mention of lunar activity. In June of 2013, a supermoon made headlines, and in June of 2014, the moon was in eclipse and colored red. The term blood moon was applied to the phenomena, which is thought by some to have a religious association. The next blood moon or lunar tetrad eclipse is scheduled to occur on Oct. 7, 2014.
By Dale Davidson