The biggest, brightest full moon of the year shines in the sky this weekend, which makes this the perfect time to take in the wonders of the night sky – whether or not you’re swept up in the “supermoon” hype.
Some say the supermoon ranks as “one of the biggest celestial events of the year.” Meanwhile, Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait says it’s no big deal, and that “you’d never notice the difference” between this full moon and any other. The true message of the supermoon lies in a happy medium: It’s not a monstrous moon, but it’s a great excuse to moon over a monthly sight that we sometimes take for granted.
The moon itself is the same size it’s been for ages, but the key is how close it’ll be when it’s full. Because the moon’s orbit around our planet is elliptical, its precise distance varies, depending on where it is in the orbit. This time around, the moon enters its full phase at 7:32 a.m. ET Sunday, only about a half-hour after it passes the point in its orbit nearest to Earth, which is known as perigee. As a result, this full moon will look about 14 percent wider and 30 percent brighter than it does at the farthest point in its orbit.
June’s full moon is the headliner because it’s this year’s best example of a “perigee full moon.” Tides will be stronger than usual, but that’s nothing to get alarmed about.
The fact that this full moon takes place so soon after Friday’s summer solstice adds an extra twist, according to astronomer Bob Berman. “The visual effect is to make this the lowest-down full moon of 2013,” Berman said in a news release from Slooh Space Camera. “And since lower moons tend to be orange, yellow or amber, shining as they do through more than twice as much reddening air and moisture, this lunar experience should give us a true ‘honey moon’ all night long. Moreover, lower moons look larger, thanks to the famous ‘moon illusion.’ This second moon-enhancing effect will be more visually obvious than its actual size increase.”
Read more at COSMIC LOG.