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What is a Supermoon?: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Supermoon

A Supermoon sighting that happened in the city of Rome in June of 2013.

The Supermoon is a rare sight that doesn’t go down very often. But when it does happen, you’ll want to make sure you’re outside of your house and ready to document just how awesome it looks in the sky. There just so happens to be a specific date for the next one and it’s going to happen very, very soon. Here’s five fast facts you need to know about a supermoon and when you can expect to watch it happen again.


1. What Exactly is a Supermoon?

Supermoon

A Supermoon is defined as “the coincidence of a full moon/new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit.” This occurrence results in the largest apparent and visual size of the lunar disk when seen from Earth.

The technical name for a Supermoon is the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. The “Supermoon” name actually originated from the studies of modern astrology. According to NASA, a Supermoon “can appear as much as 14 percent larger in the sky and 30 percent brighter to our eyes than normal moons.”

NASA Chief Scientist Dr. James Garvin from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center provided some info on the visual effects of a Supermoon. The Epoch Times posted up his explanation:

So, the moon may seem bigger although the difference in its distance from Earth is only a few percent at such times. It is called a supermoon because this is a very noticeable alignment that at first glance would seem to have an effect. The ‘super’ in supermoon is really just the appearance of being closer.


2. This Phenomenon Already Occurred on January 1, 2014

Supermoon 2014

January 2014 currently stands as the only month where two Supermoon appearances will happen. The first one has already happened (January 1). Luckily, people all over the world will get the chance to see it happen one more time during that month. More interesting is the fact that this two time appearance of a Supermoon during the month of January won’t happen again until January 2018.


3. Another One is Happening on January 30, 2014

Supermoon

SINGAPORE – JUNE 23: The ‘Supermoon’ rises at the Swissotel The Stamford over Singapore on June 23, 2013 in Singapore. The haze eased on Sunday with PSI levels stable in the ‘moderate’ range after a week of record highs. Singapore officials announced they would pursue any local companies found to be involved in the forest fires in Indonesia. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

The next Supermoon is coming on January 30, 2014. Once this next sighting goes down, we’ll have a gallery of the coolest pics of this rare Earth/Moon occurrence.

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4. More Supermoon Sightings Will Appear Later in 2014

Supermoon

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL – JUNE 23: In this handout photo provided by Disney Parks, the “supermoon” is seen with the Epcot center geodesic sphere in the foreground on June 23, 2013 at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. This “supermoon” is the closest and largest full moon for all of 2013. A “supermoon” will not occur again until August 10, 2014. (Photo by David Roark/Disney Parks via Getty Images)

The next Supermoons will occur on three more different dates in 2014 – July 12, August 10 and September 9. The August, 10, 2014 Supermoon may just be the most exciting one to you’ll need to get a picture of, since it’s reported to be the one that’s closest to the Earth.


5. Supermoons Had a Different Name Beforehand

Supermoon 2014

A supermoon rises next to the ancient Greek temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, some 65 kilometers south of Athens, on June 23, 2013. AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Supermoons weren’t referred to as their current name at one point. The scientific term for it (“perigee full moon” or “perigee new moon”) categorized it at one point in time. The word “perigee,” which is defined as “the point in the orbit of the moon or a satellite at which it is nearest to the earth,” comes from the Greek word “perigeion” (“close around the Earth”). Over 30 years ago, an astrologer by the name of Richard Nolle coined the term Supermoon.

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