From The Editors Science

The Supermoon After a Gap of 68 Years

What is a supermoon and why does it happen? Also known as the Beaver moon, it’s nothing but an infrequent occurrence when the moon’s proximity to the earth is at its maximum. Hence, the moon, earth’s only natural satellite, will appear to be larger to us than it normally does.

The last time earthlings witnessed the supermoon was as far back as 1948. As reported by NASA the year 2016 will be witness to not one but three supermoons. One has already been observed on October 16, 2016. The next one will be witnessed from earth on November 14th and again on December 14th.

While the supermoon is a not so frequent occurrence, last observed in 1948, three supermoons in one calendar year is a big rarity. The next supermoon as predicted by scientists is supposed to happen in the year 2034.

According to scientists, the supermoon occurs because of the elliptical shape of the moon’s orbit around our planet. As the moon goes around the earth along the oval shaped orbit it is sometimes closer to the earth and at times farther away.

Comparing the Moon at apogee vs. perigee
Comparing the Moon at apogee vs. perigee

When the moon is closest to the earth in its orbit it is called perigee and at its farthest point in the orbit, it is an apogee. The difference in the size of the perigee full moon and the normal full moon will not be enormous.

The frenzy and hype about supermoons are exaggerated according to Neil deGrasse Tyson, an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and science communicator. ”If you have a 16-inch pizza, would you call it a super pizza compared with a 15-inch pizza?” deGrasse said on the StarTalk radio program.

However, there is no denying the fact that it will be the largest and brightest supermoon of the 21st, century. The best view of the supermoon will be from tall skyscrapers or from a place where the surroundings are not very brightly lit up – the darker your surroundings the better the view of the supermoon you can get.

It is a well-known fact that the moon affects the tides on earth. The full moon brings higher than normal tides during the 12 hour high tide cycle. Similarly, during the low tide period, the tides are lower than usual. However, during a perigee moon, the high tides are at its highest and low tides at its lowest.

Whatever the level of interest of the people in the supermoon, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to go out and marvel at the beauty of this cosmic phenomenon.

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