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What’s All the Hype About the ‘Super Moon’?

If you were expecting a dramatic increase in the size of the moon, you likely were disappointed, but astronomers say it’s still a big deal.

Photo by Ted Schnell: The perigee full moon hangs over the Fox Valley on Saturday, June 22, 2013.
Photo by Ted Schnell: The perigee full moon hangs over the Fox Valley on Saturday, June 22, 2013.
By Ted Schnell

So if you’re not an astronomer and you hear the phrase “super moon,” you might be led to think you'll see a larger, brighter moon.

And, since it’s super, you’re probably thinking dramatically larger and brighter, right? After all, when you supersize that order of fries or a drink, you get a ginormous serving!

So when it rolled around on Saturday night, June 22, 2013, the first night of the astronomical wonder, was anyone disappointed that the moon’s size wasn’t, well, dramatically larger?

By the way, you can see it again tonight — weather permitting: The super moon this year started Saturday evening but does not conclude until late Sunday.

Space.com describes the super moon as the one time each year the full moon moves closest to the earth (at perigee), making it appear slightly larger. In fact, astronomers prefer the term “perigee full moon” over super moon because the term precisely defines a full moon at its closest point (perigee) to earth in a given month.

Interestingly, Space.com points out, not all super moons are the same, because the distance between the earth and the moon can vary by as much as the diameter of the earth from month to month. By the way, Space.com says that on average, the moon is about 30 earth diameters away from our planet.

Furthermore, if you want your super moon supersized, you have to wait for the one that comes each December, when the earth is at its closest approach to the sun, whose gravitational pull draws the moon even closer to earth.

The term super moon appears to have been  coined in March 2011, according to the website EarthSky.

Still, EarthSky says Saturday’s super moon, which will be visible again tonight, is the closest and largest full moon of 2013. “The moon will not be so close again until August 2014.”


Related:

Space.com:

EarthSky


TELL US: Did you think the super moon was super cool or a super bust? Tell us in the comments section below.

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