The Supermoon is dubbed "one of the biggest celestial events of the year." Yet, yearly it goes vastly unnoticed. The Supermoon is different than any other full moon, yet it barely looks different in the noir night sky. So, what's so special about it?
The moon has been the same size, as long as we've been alive; it's not growing. The key is, how close it gets to the Earth. The moon orbits our planet in a highly elliptical path. Starting tonight, our beloved space rock will be at it's perigee; it's closest orbital point to Earth. As illustrated by the graphic below, "apogee" is the exact opposite.
This year, the moon enters it's full phase at 6:32 am CDT tomorrow morning (Sunday). This is merely 30 minutes after it reaches perigee. Keep in mind, the summer solstice (start of summer) just occurred yesterday!
As precisely measure by astronomers the moon will appear roughly 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than it does at apogee, the next few nights. This starry sight is stealing headlines because it's nearly a textbook example of a true "perigee full moon." With it being a full moon reaching perigee, tides will be much stronger than normal, as well.
This year's Supermoon will be almost the lowest and brightest it possibly can be in the night sky. All of these factors will give the moon an orangish-red hue to it. Thus, a true "Honey Moon" will be seen this year, all night long.
I guess it's only fitting that living through a year that ends with the peculiar number, 13, comes with peculiar sightings. 2013 is actually offering 3 Supermoons. We just had one on May 25 and the next will occur one month from now, July 22. Again, a "Supermoon" is when the moon is closest to the Earth (at perigee) AND in it's full (or new) phase.
If you want to get technical about it, this year's triplet Supermoons are all less "super" than last year's, but the difference can't be perceived by the human eye. The most "super" of the Supermoons in the 21st century, will occur on December 6, 2052.
A general partly cloudy sky is in the forecast for Northeast Kansas tonight, and a few lucky spots will be mostly clear. With rain chances moving in for tomorrow night, the best chance to see the Supermoon will be tonight and again on Monday night.
Life is about the little things. Things that we all take for granted. The monthly full moon often falls into that category; something that goes unnoticed. Tonight's the Supermoon, take some time and behold the sight on this beautiful summer night. It might not be the most "super," but neither are we. Nights like tonight are special because they give us a super excuse to enjoy the little things in life.
- Kansas First News Storm Track Meteorologist, Kyle Borchert