What makes it more fascinating is remembering some exceptional photos in the past where objects are pictured either superimposed over or juxtaposed with the seemingly oversized moon.
Alas, I saw the moon tonight and there was really nothing spectacular about it. There was nothing of the much heralded events like the blood moon, the black moon, the blue moon, the strawberry moon and the harvest moon, among others.
But let me just share with you the explanation of the science and origins behind some of these events that will let you decide whether they are worth late nights or early mornings of moongazing.
According to James Lattis, an astronomer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the supermoon is a made-up term, meaning it is not an astronomical term.
Supermoon was actually coined by an astrologer in the 1970s, not by a scientist. The term has come to loosely mean a full moon that is at perigee, or when the moon is at its closest position to Earth along its orbit.
Dr. Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, also explains that the supermoon really shines when it is compared with the full moon at apogee, or its farthest position from Earth. Placing images of the two side by side, according to him, you can see the difference more easily – the supermoon is 14 percent larger than the apogee full moon and 30 percent brighter.
On average, the moon is about 238,900 miles away from Earth. During supermoons it gets closer – in November 2016 when the moon was at its closest approach since 1948, it was approximately 221,524 miles away.
Astronomers measure the distance of the moon from Earth by shooting lasers to the surface of the moon, which then bounce off mirrors called retroreflectors, which were left behind by the Apollo missions and two Soviet landers.