Changing Planet

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.

 

Andrew Fazekas, aka The Night Sky Guy, is a science writer, broadcaster, and lecturer who loves to share his passion for the wonders of the universe through all media. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic News and is the national cosmic correspondent for Canada’s Weather Network TV channel, space columnist for CBC Radio network, and a consultant for the Canadian Space Agency. As a member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Andrew has been observing the heavens from Montreal for over a quarter century and has never met a clear night sky he didn’t like.
  • sharleemurphy

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

  • sharleemurphy

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

  • avtar chauhan

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

  • avtar chauhan

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

  • Ruth

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

  • Ruth

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

  • ursula venter

    Will be watching

  • ursula venter

    Will be watching

  • Guest

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

  • Guest

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

  • Zawahir

    Excellent description. Photo tips are also timely and appreciated.

  • Zawahir

    Excellent description. Photo tips are also timely and appreciated.

  • Oscar Míglio

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

  • Oscar Míglio

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

  • ishrat jahan nuri

    So nice information. Thanks to all of you

  • ishrat jahan nuri

    So nice information. Thanks to all of you

  • Lada

    I love supper moon.

  • Lada

    I love supper moon.

  • Usman adamu

    Am enjoyed dis entertainment news

  • Usman adamu

    Am enjoyed dis entertainment news

  • leon

    Hi

    Thank you for info i will be watching

    Thanks

  • leon

    Hi

    Thank you for info i will be watching

    Thanks

  • Nina Davies

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

  • Nina Davies

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

  • Bogu

    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.

  • Bogu

    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.

  • John Lakon

    Awesome
    Definitly gonna watch it.
    thanks

  • John Lakon

    Awesome
    Definitly gonna watch it.
    thanks

  • Kathryn

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

  • Kathryn

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

  • Kimberly H

    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!

  • Kimberly H

    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!

  • rajit gurung

    Thank you for info..will be watching

  • rajit gurung

    Thank you for info..will be watching

  • Peter

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

  • Peter

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

  • chris

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

  • chris

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

  • Ren Patton

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

  • Ren Patton

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

  • Elisabeth

    NINA DAVIES :
    GMT = UT (Universal time)

  • Elisabeth

    NINA DAVIES :
    GMT = UT (Universal time)

  • Maschell

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

  • Maschell

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

  • Lele

    I hope to watching the super moon with someone.

  • Lele

    I hope to watching the super moon with someone.

  • ian brand

    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.

  • ian brand

    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.

  • Dwayne LaGrou

    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

  • Dwayne LaGrou

    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

  • j kity

    Great info love love love the full moon will be watching

  • j kity

    Great info love love love the full moon will be watching

  • Jkity

    Supermom outta sight

  • Jkity

    Supermom outta sight

  • Lele

    Hope to watching the super moon with someone.

  • Lele

    Hope to watching the super moon with someone.

  • Peter Cook

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

  • Peter Cook

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

  • Jim Nieman

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

  • Jim Nieman

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

  • Farman Khattak

    Wonderful View of Extra-Supermoon.

  • Farman Khattak

    Wonderful View of Extra-Supermoon.

  • smile

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

  • smile

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

  • Patricia Wright

    I’ll be watching:)

  • Patricia Wright

    I’ll be watching:)

  • Desmond

    Sky-watching “perigee full moon” right now.

  • Desmond

    Sky-watching “perigee full moon” right now.

  • luis eduardo

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

  • luis eduardo

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

  • Susan

    ,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?

  • Susan

    ,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?

  • Ralph Nualla

    wondering bout time in manila?

  • Ralph Nualla

    wondering bout time in manila?

  • Carolyn fergie

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

  • Carolyn fergie

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

  • salman matij

    Wonderful experience

  • salman matij

    Wonderful experience

  • Farogh Dovlatshahi

    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.

  • Farogh Dovlatshahi

    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.

  • Aliyu Usman

    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!

  • Aliyu Usman

    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!

  • Marina

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

  • Marina

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

  • Jace

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

  • Jace

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

  • Janet goldstein

    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.

  • Janet goldstein

    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.

  • Sarah Thomas

    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!

  • Sarah Thomas

    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!

  • jennifer lynn khoury

    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

  • jennifer lynn khoury

    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

  • Dolph Spain

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

  • Dolph Spain

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

  • conny rubi

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

  • conny rubi

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

  • Dulli Agrawal

    Dear Mr Andrew
    This letter is to seek your permission for using a photograph by you showing a super moon.
    This permission is sought for my article
    MOON, SUPER-MOON AND PLANETS OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM: BRIGHTNESS AND SIZE
    to be published in EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICS-INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS PUBLISHING -UK.
    This is meant for academic and teaching purposes.
    Regards,
    Prof DC Agrawal
    Banaras Hindu University, India

  • Dulli Agrawal

    Dear Mr Andrew
    This letter is to seek your permission for using a photograph by you showing a super moon.
    This permission is sought for my article
    MOON, SUPER-MOON AND PLANETS OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM: BRIGHTNESS AND SIZE
    to be published in EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICS-INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS PUBLISHING -UK.
    This is meant for academic and teaching purposes.
    Regards,
    Prof DC Agrawal
    Banaras Hindu University, India

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