Supermoon: what’s the “big” deal?

Posted at 7:14 AM, Jun 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-19 07:33:16-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – Perhaps you’ve seen it on social media in recent weeks. This month’s Full Moon is a “Supermoon!” But what’s the big deal about this big Moon?

Let’s make this clear. A “Supermoon” Full Moon is a regularly occurring event when our Moon is closest to the Earth in its orbit about us this year (that’s called “perigee”). How much closer? About 29,000 miles closer to Earth than its farthest point in its egg-shaped orbit from us. That may sound really close, but our Moon will still be a more than 221,000 miles away from us.


Sure, those thousands of miles closer do make a difference in how the Moon looks in our sky, but to the average observer, it really won’t look that different from any other Full Moon (including when it has the optically distorted bigger look on the horizons). It’ll be a little bigger and brighter than normal Full Moons, but that’s really it.Lunar_perigee_apogee

The Full Moon “moment” occurs June 23 at 7:33 a.m. EDT. For us in central Virginia (times listed next are for Richmond), the Moon will rise at 7:48 p.m. EDT on June 22 , reach its highest point in our night sky at 12:55 a.m. EDT on June 23, then set at 6:03 a.m. EDT June 23. So that means the exact time of the Full Moon moment/perigee/Supermoon will not be visible to us in Virginia.

The next time the Moon will be this close to us is in August of 2014.

Watch this NASA Sciencecast from last year’s Supermoon in May to learn more about this kind of Full Moon:

According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the June Full Moon is nicknamed the Full Strawberry Moon “because the Algonquin tribes knew it as a signal to gather ripening fruit. It was often known as the Full Rose Moon in Europe (where strawberries aren’t native).”

Meteorologist Carrie Rose
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