Up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane…no! It’s a Supermoon!

Dec 21, 2012

Sarah Nicols

What is a “supermoon”? One of my friends posted a link to this article today (http://yhoo.it/Kt5iZE), and it got me thinking….what is a supermoon? I had never heard about this phenomenon, so I decided to do a little digging. Here’s what I found out:

Comparison between a supermoon (right) and an average full moon (left). Source: Wikipedia

  1. The technical name for a supermoon isperigee-syzygy (good for Scrabble!), because perigee is the term for the moon’s elliptical orbit.
  2. Because the Moon’s orbit is an ellipse, it moves slightly closer and slightly farther away from the Earth as it revolves. The distance varies between approximately 222,000 miles and 252,000 miles from the Earth.
  3. A supermoon is when a full moon coincides with the closest approach the moon has with Earth.
  4. There is some speculation about whether a supermoon causes an increase in natural disasters, but the evidence suggests there is not a link.
So, as you can see, while the moon is going to be closer and appear bigger than ever this weekend, it’s really just a coincidence. Just like a blue moon isn’t actually blue, it’s just a rare event where you have two full moons in one calendar month! Want to find out more about the moon and space? Check out Wonderopolis (www.wonderopolis.org)  to find out all sorts of cool things!




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