Super Moon Viewing and Star Gazing

From timeanddate.com:

Super Moon – Super Full Moon

A super full moon occurs when the moon’s closest approach to the Earth (lunar perigee) coincides with the phase of full moon. When this happens the moon may seem bigger and brighter. However, for the ordinary star-gazer there will be no significant difference.

Use the Moon Distance Calculator to find out when the next super full moon will occur in your location.

Illustration image

During a super full moon, the moon may appear bigger and brighter.

©iStockphoto.com/Hydromet

What is a Super Full Moon?

The distance of the moon from the Earth varies throughout the month and year. The average distance is about 238,000 miles (382,900 kilometers). During the super full moon on March 19, 2011, which was a particularly close full moon, it was only 221,567 miles (356,577 kilometers).

The super full moon is also referred to and used by some astrologers as the “supermoon”, which is a term coined by noted astrologer, Richard Nolle. According to his definition, the phenomenon occurs when the full moon is within 90 percent of its closest approch to Earth.

Natural disaster trigger?

In the wake of the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan on Friday, March 11, 2011, many are trying to find an explanation for these catastrophic events. One astrologer claims that the “supermoon” will result in increased levels of seismic activity and unusual weather patterns.

One noted astrologer, Richard Nolle, claims that when the moon goes super extreme, the results will be huge storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, and other natural disasters. However, these claims are merely theories because astrology simply makes connections between astronomical and mystical events.

Although the sun and the moon’s alignment cause a small increase in tectonic activity, the effects of the super full moon on Earth will be minor. Many scientists have conducted studies and haven’t found anything significant that can link the super full moon to natural disasters.

According to NASA, the combination of the moon being at its closest and in its “full moon” phase, should not affect the internal energy balance of the Earth since there are lunar tides every day. Thus there will be a small difference in tidal forces exerted by the moon’s gravitational pull at lunar perigee, which will not be great enough to overcome the larger forces within the planet.

Presently there is no scientific evidence that can link the super full moon to trigger natural disasters as most natural disasters have nothing to do with the moon at all.

Typical Effects of the Moon

The moon is Earth’s only natural satellite that is in a synchronous rotation with the Earth. When viewed from Earth, you can only see one side of the Moon no matter what time it is due to the moon’s rotation and orbit around the Earth. The moon spins at about the same speed and direction as it orbits around the Earth which causes the same side to always be facing the Earth. It is the second brightest object in the sky after the Sun due to its soil’s reflective properties.

The tides on Earth are mostly generated by the intensity of the Moon’s gravitational pull from one side of the Earth to the other. The moon’s gravity can cause small ebbs and flows in the continents called land tides or solid Earth tides. These are greatest during the full and new moons because the sun and moon are aligned on the same or opposite sides of the Earth.

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  • L

    So much fun! Thanks Larry for sharing your telescope and showing me how to use mine.

    1 · June 20, 2013

  • Ted

    somethings come up at work, i have to be up at 4am tomorrow so i'm gonna have to skip :(

    June 19, 2013

  • Larry

    Hey, astronomers. Though the weather today looks bleak, it's expected to clear by tomorrow night. Please feel bring to bring snacks, beverages, and lawn chairs. We have people coming on and off the water so it could be quite fun.

    1 · June 18, 2013

  • Larry

    Not quite the solstice, but almost. In other words, a late setting sun. We might be able to catch it before it dips below the horizon, so if you have solar gear (filters, etc) might as well bring them to the event. I'll have mine just in case.

    June 9, 2013

  • Pascale S.

    Sadly, I am working that night, but hope to join you soon!

    June 5, 2013

  • Larry

    Hi, everyone. As noted in the email, we've changed the date so that (hopefully) more people can attend. Here's to clear skies.

    May 27, 2013

  • Benjamin

    Sorry, but I'm busy most Saturday nights.

    May 27, 2013

  • Chris A

    I have to list myself as a probable. I defintely want to do this, but it's my birthday weekend and I might, but probably won't, be moving that weekend.

    May 24, 2013

    • Larry

      Hi, Chris. Not a problem. There will be other nights! If it winds up just us then I'll probably cancel but we'll see. It's still a month away.

      May 24, 2013

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