Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Why Saturday’s 'supermoon' will be beautiful, but not super

Date:
May 4, 2012
Source:
McMaster University
Summary:
Yes, it will be marginally brighter and larger, but Saturday's so-called "supermoon" is not going to be noticeably different from the full moon of the month before or after. An astronomer explains that a "supermoon" typically happens once a year, when the moon's elliptical orbit comes closest to Earth during a full moon. But the nickname makes it sound like a much bigger deal than it actually is.

The "Supermoon" of March 19, 2011 (right), compared to a rather "average" moon of December 20, 2010 (left): note the size difference.

Yes, it will be marginally brighter and larger, but Saturday's so-called "supermoon" is not going to be noticeably different from the full moon of the month before or after.

McMaster astronomer Robert Cockcroft, manager of the university's McCallion Planetarium, explains that a "supermoon" typically happens once a year, when the moon's elliptical orbit comes closest to Earth during a full moon. But the nickname makes it sound like a much bigger deal than it actually is.

"Will people know it's a supermoon on Saturday? Only if they've read about it," Cockcroft says.

The full moon at perigee, as astronomers call it, is 14 per cent larger than an average full moon, but barely larger than the full moons that come before and afterward, since the proximity of the full moon changes gradually over the course of the year.

The closeness of the "supermooon" does bring higher tides, but they rise only two or three centimetres beyond average, says Cockcroft, a PhD candidate in Astronomy and Physics.

While scientists don't consider the "supermoon" to be a big event, they do welcome the chance to talk about astronomy.

Cockcroft says myths about the full moon persist, despite scientific evidence that shows for example, that there is no link between lunar cycles and natural disasters, nor is there any relationship between madness -- or lunacy -- and a full moon.

One genuine mystery about a full moon is why it looks larger near the horizon than it does in the open sky.

"It's not fully understood exactly what happens," Cockcroft says. "It's definitely an illusion, and you can test this yourself."

The "moon illusion" makes the moon look like it's receding as it reaches the open sky, but if you hold up a dime against the moon in both places, the illusion is broken.

For those who will be looking at the full moon during Saturday's perigee, Cockcroft says its most fascinating features include the maria -- smooth fields of hardened lava once thought to be seas -- and the impact craters, particularly the rays that emanate from them where displaced matter has settled in spokelike patterns.

Those seas and craters lend themselves to imagination -- forming images of a man, a woman and even a rabbit.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McMaster University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

McMaster University. "Why Saturday’s 'supermoon' will be beautiful, but not super." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120504135724.htm>.
McMaster University. (2012, May 4). Why Saturday’s 'supermoon' will be beautiful, but not super. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120504135724.htm
McMaster University. "Why Saturday’s 'supermoon' will be beautiful, but not super." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120504135724.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

Latin America Launches Communications Satellite

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) Argentina launches a home-built satellite, a first for Latin America. It will ride a French-made Ariane 5 rocket into orbit, and will provide cell phone, digital TV, Internet and data services to the lower half of South America. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

This Week @ NASA, October 17, 2014

NASA (Oct. 17, 2014) Power spacewalk, MAVEN’s “First Light”, Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Saturn's 'Death Star' Moon Might Have A Hidden Ocean

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) The smallest of Saturn's main moons, Mimas, wobbles as it orbits. Research reveals it might be due to a global ocean underneath its icy surface. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins