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Sunday’s “super moon” will be the biggest and closest full moon of 2014, with scientists are saying there will not be a closer full moon until November, 2034. It will be a perigee full moon, meaning it is near earth and will appear 30 percent brighter and 14 percent bigger.
It takes 27.3 days for the moon to orbit the Earth, the reason Native Americans used “moons” for our word month. The average distance from the Earth to the moon is 238,855 miles, but a Perigee moon is only 225,700 miles away.
The moon always keeps the same face towards earth and has no seasons, because the tilt of its axis is only 1.5 degrees. The earth’s tilt is 23.5 degrees.
The best time to see the super moon could be right after sunset. However, scientists say any time late at night would be great as long as the skies are clear. The moon’s brightness may prevent viewers from seeing the annual Perseid meteor shower. These meteors appear to shoot out of the Perseus constellation producing more fireballs than other annual showers. Sometimes viewers may spot a hundred Perseids an hour, but there are concerns that the lunar glare may make the meteor shower less visible. Even though the moon will be the biggest and closest to Earth until 2034, viewers still hope to catch some meteor sightings.
Beijing researchers claim to have discovered part of the moon is liquid. They base their conclusion on experiments from Apollo missions and information from Japan’s Selene lunar orbiter. They say they have proven the deepest part of the lunar mantle is soft. Earth’s gravity keeps the molten layer around the core.
All bodies in space exert a gravitational pull on other bodies. That force varies as they move closer or further from each other, since no orbit is completely circular. The effects of the moon’s gravitational pull on Earth are evidenced by the daily flow of tides. The moon also experiences similar forces from Earth’s gravity.
Dr. Yuji Harada, from the Planetary Science Institute in China, says the findings support that the moons interior has not cooled and hardened and is still being warmed by the earth’s effect. Scientists have found the moon has more quakes when it gets closer to the Earth.
Analysis of data from Apollo missions cause scientists to believe the moon has two parts: the core, composing two percent of its mass, probably made of iron or sulfur, and the mantle, 825 miles thick and composed of rocks rich in magnesium and iron. The crust is around 42 miles deep and is pockmarked with craters. Since the moon has a much thinner atmosphere, a dusty footprint could sit undisturbed for centuries. On its sunny side, the moon averages a daytime temperature of 273 degrees F, while the dark side may be at -245 degrees F.
Some scientists maintain the best time to see the super moon is while it is rising. When the moon is lower on the horizon it looks orange, because viewers are looking through more of the atmosphere. There will not be a closer bigger full moon until 2034, and the Perseids peak between August 10 and August 13.
By Laurie Stilwell