Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Supermoon? Looked like the "regular" moon to me....

There was a lot of hype about the "Supermoon" that happened a few days ago, but I have issues with it.

Now this is just my own opinion, based solely on what I understand about orbital mechanics, and what I learned about the moon itself back in 3rd grade science class, but what was so "super" about last Saturday's moon?

The moon has a nearly circular orbit, which means that yes, there ARE times when it IS closer to the earth, and also times when it is further away, but the way I understand it, the difference in those two points is not enough for the moon to appear "bigger" or "smaller" when viewed by the naked eye, from the earth.

It's out there at a distance of over 200 thousand miles, and actually, looks about the same size in the sky as does the Sun. That's because while the Sun is 400 times bigger than the moon, the Sun is 400 times further away, some 93 MILLION miles. Interesting little tidbit of info there, wouldn't you say?

But, back to the Supermoon. I found a site through "Stumble", that describes the Supermoon in detail, and has a few pics taken from Flickr, and the interesting thing about those pictures is this. All but one was taken when the moon had just risen, and was close to the horizon. The problem with that is, ANY time you look at the moon or the Sun when they are close to the horizon, the atmosphere creates an optical illusion where the object being viewed appears to be much larger than it actually is. Taking a picture of the moon on Saturday night when it was close to the horizon doesn't prove to me that it was in any way a "Super" moon. I was out there that night, later, when the moon was much higher in the sky, and it looked no different than any other full moon I've seen, and I didn't expect it to. I'd love to see a couple of pictures of the moon on a "regular" night, and then from Saturday, side by side, taken from the exact same point, so I could really see that it WAS in fact bigger in the sky, but I bet there would be little difference to be seen.

Anyway, here's the link to the site, if for nothing else, they are some beautiful pictures, regardless if the moon is "Super" or not.

'Supermoon' phenomenon: The Largest Full Moon in 18 years

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