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Catch the Extra-Supermoon This Weekend

The beauty of the full moon rising, like this 'supermoon' in May 2012, is one of the most stunning skywatching sights not to be missed. Credit: Andrew Fazekas
The beauty of the full moon rising, like this “supermoon” in May 2012, is one of the most stunning sky-watching sights not to be missed. Credit: A. Fazekas

Sky-watchers gazing at the full moon rising on the evening of Sunday, August 10, will be treated to the largest and brightest full moon of the year—also known as an extra-supermoon.

This lunar show will be the second act in a trio of supermoons that are gracing our skies this summer.

Thanks to coincidental timing of the moon being at its closest approach to Earth for 2014, at 221,765 miles (356,896 kilometers) away, while in its full phase this week our planet’s companion will appear 16 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual.

While some are calling it a supermoon, the astronomical community prefers to use the term “perigee full moon,” and point out that they are not all that rare since the alignment between a full moon phase with perigee occurs every year.

In 2014 there are three supermoons—on July 12, August 10, and September 9, when the moon becomes full on the same day as perigee.

The monthly full moon always looks like a big disk, but because its orbit is egg-shaped around the Earth, there are times when the moon is at what astronomers call perigee—its shortest distance from Earth in the roughly month-long lunar cycle—or it can be at apogee, its farthest distance from Earth.

Likewise, because the size of the moon’s orbit varies slightly, each monthly perigee is not always the same distance away from Earth.

How Rare Is This Event?

But this weekend the timing couldn’t be more perfect, with perigee occurring only 26 minutes before the moon officially reaches its full phase at 18:10 Universal Time (UT) (2:10 p.m. EDT) on August 10. By the way, the moon will be straight overhead in the sky above the Indian Ocean at that specific time.

Such tight timing won’t occur again until 2034.

While this neat convergence will make this an extra-supermoon, don’t be surprised if you can’t spot the difference from other full moons you might have gazed at in past months. After all, the difference in distance between Earth and the moon from last month’s supermoon will be no more than a few hundred miles or kilometers—something the human eye really can’t detect.

In March 2011 a so-called supermoon was at its closest in two decades at only 221,565 miles (356,575 kilometers).

Best Time to Head Outside?

But there is no doubt that folks everywhere looking up this weekend at the full moon will find it impressive, especially as it rises into the sky.

For moon-watchers and photo hounds, the best time to catch all the action is just after your local sunset on Sunday, just as the full moon begins to rise.

As the silvery orb creeps above your local horizon, the most picturesque moments will present themselves. While still at low altitude, the moon will make for a particularly pretty shot as it poses with foreground objects like mountains and trees.

An optical illusion known as “the Moon Illusion” makes the moon appear larger near the horizon: Because of the Ponzo effect, our brain is tricked into thinking the lunar disk is larger than it is.

Try using tripods and remote timers to stabilize your shots. Also, a telephoto lens (200 mm and up) will allow you to zoom in on the lunar disk while getting a distant foreground object to appear larger in the same frame.

And if you miss this week’s lunacy, remember to mark your calendar for September 9, for your next chance to catch the so-called supermoon.

Follow Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Comments

  1. conny rubi
    dodge city ks
    August 12, 8:23 am

    no hay palabras para la naturaleza, SOLO PUEDO DECIR EL PODER DE DIOS.

  2. Dolph Spain
    Rehoboth Beach, DE
    August 11, 2:11 pm

    Took a great picture and would like to share it, but don’t see how on this site.

  3. jennifer lynn khoury
    zululand
    August 11, 1:35 pm

    I missed it but will be sure to look out for it on the 9 th Sep as it was the date I was born a selibration is in order

  4. Sarah Thomas
    South Padre Island, Texas
    August 11, 4:05 am

    The moon was Spectacular tonight! I was sitting confortably listening to the water lap the shore as the Moon was rising. I wish I had been there earlier as it rose and broke the horizon line.

    And when I went to the Beach and drove to the bay at 2:00 am I didn’t see the Meteor Shower as promised. But the Moon was Captivating and I can see what all the Lunacy is about!

    Hope to be on the shore Sept 9, 2014 moon Gazing!

  5. Janet goldstein
    Kirkland quebec
    August 11, 2:08 am

    Ran out to look at the moon at 1:59 p.m. Sunday night, august 10. It is the brightness that is so dramatic. It’s so luminous ! So much fun to see.

  6. Jace
    August 10, 10:41 pm

    I will be watching. If I missed it I will be ready for it again Sept. 9th.

  7. Marina
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    August 10, 7:23 pm

    Amazing! Here un Buenos Aires we saw it like this! Wow! I love it! Thanks for the pic ;)

  8. Aliyu Usman
    Kaduna, Nigeria.
    August 10, 7:10 pm

    Wow! I witnessed this super-moon s moment after our sunset. What amazed me most was that I didn’t know about this post or anything like that; but I was particularly overwhelmed with the size when I rose my head to the sky. After reading this article, I realised why I was thrilled 4 hours ago!

  9. Farogh Dovlatshahi
    United States
    August 10, 5:39 pm

    Thank you very much for this ANDREW !
    WHEN you decide to run fo run for public office like: UN’s Sec. General and IF you are under 98 years of age, I will vote for you.

  10. salman matij
    karachi pakistan
    August 10, 4:36 pm

    Wonderful experience

  11. Carolyn fergie
    Glasgow
    August 10, 4:25 pm

    It’s raining and very cloudy here, so nothing to see.

  12. Ralph Nualla
    Philippines
    August 10, 3:52 pm

    wondering bout time in manila?

  13. Susan
    Turkey
    August 10, 3:40 pm

    ,We have clouds that were passing by when the moon came up and now seems to be staying with it? Does anyone know what causes this?

  14. luis eduardo
    peru
    August 10, 3:32 pm

    at what time is going to happen in peru ?plz someone anwer me!!

  15. Desmond
    Nigeria
    August 10, 2:49 pm

    Sky-watching “perigee full moon” right now.

  16. Patricia Wright
    Thorold Ontario Canada
    August 10, 2:46 pm

    I’ll be watching:)

  17. smile
    Indonesia
    August 10, 2:34 pm

    What a great moon to night… Don’t miss it :)

  18. Farman Khattak
    Rawalpindi (Pakistan)
    August 10, 2:01 pm

    Wonderful View of Extra-Supermoon.

  19. Jim Nieman
    christchurch, New Zealand
    August 10, 12:08 am

    Oh no, it seems to be clouding up. I really hope to observe this unique event.

  20. Peter Cook
    Canada
    August 10, 12:01 am

    Does “16% larger” mean diameter or area? If it’s area, why does the brightness increase more?

  21. Lele
    china
    August 9, 11:12 pm

    Hope to watching the super moon with someone.

  22. Jkity
    indiana
    August 9, 10:25 pm

    Supermom outta sight

  23. j kity
    indiana
    August 9, 10:03 pm

    Great info love love love the full moon will be watching

  24. Dwayne LaGrou
    Lapeer, Michigan
    August 9, 6:15 pm

    I would like to know what is the absolute closest that the moon Gets to the Earth in Miles?! I realize that it varies but what is the minimum and maximum distances?
    Thanks

  25. ian brand
    Umkomaas, south coast, 10km north of Scottburgh
    August 9, 4:03 pm

    I just full moons, ‘n the monthly phase. Any remember old Cowboy song, ‘don’t fence me In’. Words in verse, ” gaze @ the moon until I loose my sense”. My wife recons I’m Lunie.

  26. Lele
    china
    August 9, 12:05 pm

    I hope to watching the super moon with someone.

  27. Maschell
    United States, Tennessee
    August 9, 12:03 pm

    Birthday is on the 9th of Sept. What should I do to celebrate involving this special event?

  28. Elisabeth
    Caribbean
    August 9, 10:50 am

    NINA DAVIES :
    GMT = UT (Universal time)

  29. Ren Patton
    India
    August 9, 7:33 am

    I can’t wait to see that Big Super Moon:).. I wish every human being make that beautiful time an unforgettable moment…

  30. chris
    adelaide
    August 9, 6:24 am

    Chris from Adelaide in south Australia will be watching with his big telescope and camera!

  31. Peter
    Australia
    August 9, 3:25 am

    Flight of the perigree with the ponzo effect will be rare for me.
    I am glad you aleretd us.

  32. rajit gurung
    nepal
    August 9, 12:37 am

    Thank you for info..will be watching

  33. Kimberly H
    Atl, GA
    August 8, 11:16 pm

    Thanks for this info. My homeschooler has a project to do this semester on the phases of the moon which requires him to take pictures for 45 days so this is timely and exciting. Thanks again!

  34. Kathryn
    Western Oregon
    August 8, 9:53 pm

    Thanks for getting the news out early. We really appreciate the lead time to make plans. No clouds predicted in rainy Northwest.

  35. John Lakon
    wanaka New Zealand
    August 8, 5:25 pm

    Awesome
    Definitly gonna watch it.
    thanks

  36. Bogu
    Washington DC
    August 8, 4:50 pm

    Hi, thanks for sharing the information. I’m also a photographer and I want to know in which position can I take a picture of the moon with the wahington monument or the capitol.

  37. Nina Davies
    Devon . UK
    August 8, 2:45 pm

    When and at what time GMT will we be able to observe this.

  38. leon
    cape town sa
    August 8, 2:41 pm

    Hi

    Thank you for info i will be watching

    Thanks

  39. Usman adamu
    Yobe state
    August 8, 1:47 pm

    Am enjoyed dis entertainment news

  40. Lada
    August 8, 1:14 pm

    I love supper moon.

  41. ishrat jahan nuri
    bangladesh
    August 8, 1:02 pm

    So nice information. Thanks to all of you

  42. Oscar Míglio
    Buenos Aires
    August 8, 12:44 pm

    ESTOS ARTÍCULOS, SIMPLES Y CLAROS, HACE QUE ALGUNAS PERSONAS ABRAN SUS CABEZAS Y ENTIENDAN LA GEOGRAFÍA ESTELAR…

  43. Zawahir
    NY
    August 8, 11:40 am

    Excellent description. Photo tips are also timely and appreciated.

  44. Guest
    NJ
    August 8, 11:05 am

    Hello, Wondering which way in the sky I will have to view the Supermoon?

  45. ursula venter
    southern most tip of Africa
    August 8, 4:38 am

    Will be watching

  46. Ruth
    2213 w Sandford St Arlington Texas 76012
    August 7, 8:36 pm

    Thanks for the warning needed it a real lot seriely.no kidding need it so much. Thank you so much. Thank you.

  47. avtar chauhan
    NEW YORK
    August 7, 11:23 am

    Yes, agreed in full. Thank you for the info.

  48. sharleemurphy
    facebook
    August 7, 8:41 am

    Pat and Katy,
    Thought the kids might enjoy watching for this!