An unusually huge full moon (at least that's how it was perceived), also known as a supermoon, lighted up the night sky on Saturday night. It was the first of three supermoons of summer which are expected this year.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the three supermoons are expected on July 12, Aug.10, and Sept. 9. This phenomenon is scientifically called "perigee moon." This happens when the full moon of our celestial neighbour is on the perigree side of its elliptical orbit making it appear relatively big and bright. The perigree side is 50,000 closer than the apogee side of the moon's orbit although the difference can be difficult to perceive.
NASA further explained that a 30 percent difference between an ordinary full moon and a supermoon can be easily covered by clouds and haze making it hard to differentiate. There is also no ruler or reference point available to provide a sense of scale or measurement of the moon's diameter.
Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory explained that when the low-hanging moon near the horizon lights through trees, buildings, and other objects in the foreground, it intensifies the illusion in a perigee moon making it appear unnaturally large. Astronomers and psychologists have not fully understood it yet but people remembered the illusion of the moon more than the actual view of the moon itself.
He further stated that the sequence of full moons occurring near pedigee is not an a rare event but is something that happened every 13 months and 18 days.
"In fact, just last year there were three perigee Moons in a row, but only one was widely reported," Chester stated.
For those people who had taken the time to watch the first supermoon of summer last Saturday night, some have shared their experiences and photos on the social media Twitter. One user @Astro_Wheels even quoted a saying from Einstein which stated: "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious..."
Another user @taliaeliana stated that she only had four hours of sleep but her experience with the supermoon was totally worth it. Still another user @2morrowknight described the experience as simple super. The user also shared a photo of the supermoon captured over Mount Rainier.
For those who have not watched the first supermoon, mark your calendars for the next two supermoons scheduled this year.
In the meantime, See the slideshow for photos of the first supermoon of summer in various parts of the world.
Read the tweets below:
- Douglas H. Wheelock (@Astro_Wheels) July 13, 2014
Four hours of sleep? Totally worth it for this