Supermoon Returns!

If you haven’t heard, tomorrow (June 23) will bring the closest full Moon of the year, which will make it appear big and bright in the night sky — a so-called “Supermoon.” But what does this really mean and how does it happen? Dr. Michelle Thaller of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center explains:

While a lot of media outlets have been making a big deal out of the Supermoon, it’s really quite a natural and cyclical event…

This is not going to happen.
This is not going to happen.

and in all honesty, you probably won’t even notice the difference between it and a “regular” full Moon. In fact, last month’s full Moon was very nearly “super” too, being only about 1% farther away on the 25th than it will be tomorrow on the 23rd (and it didn’t make any headlines.)

“Even if you compared last month’s full Moon with this month’s “Supermoon” side-by-side you’d hardly notice it; you’d never notice the difference just by going out one month to look, waiting a month, and looking again,” writes Phil Plait on his Bad Astronomy site. “Also, the Moon is a lot smaller in the sky than you think, so a small change is even harder to spot.”

So if you want to join in the hype, that’s fine — just remember that’s all it is: hype. (In fact the whole idea of a “Supermoon” really didn’t exist until 2011.) But that shouldn’t stop you from going out to look up at the Moon, tomorrow or any other night… it’s still a beautiful companion world to our planet and a great reminder of our constantly-moving place in space!

There's never not a good time to look at the Moon (even if it is never larger in the sky than a dime held at arm's length!)
There’s never not a good time to look at the Moon (even if it is never larger in the sky than a dime held at arm’s length!)

Want to find out how far away the full Moon will be and when? Click here. And for a really detailed post about Moons and Supermoons, read fellow Universe Today writer Dave Dickinson’s article here.

(Oh, and don’t fall for pictures like these. They’re going to undoubtedly pop up on teh interwebz…again.)

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6 Comments

  1. Loren Riley says:

    She’s in The Universe series! I really like her.

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    1. J. P. Major says:

      Yes Michelle is great – very personable!

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      1. Loren Riley says:

        So uh… do you mean personable on TV or in real life…? Because if you know her in real life, I would be extremely jealous.

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        1. J. P. Major says:

          I can’t say I’ve met her in real life… I’m going on her many TV appearances only!

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          1. Loren Riley says:

            Nice. I was going to be like ‘so many cool points!’ and freak out. 🙂

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