Supermoon – What is a Supermoon?


What is a Supermoon? A Supermoon is the phenomenon where the moon is a “Full Moon” and is at its closest point to earth during its yearly orbit, resulting in the appearance of a larger and brighter than normal moon (at least from our viewpoint). More specifically, a Supermoon is the coincidence of a Full Moon or a New Moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth. According to NASA, a Supermoon is up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than one at its farthest point.

What is a Supermoon, in more scientific terms?

Supermoon

Supermoon

Interestingly, the term Supermoon is not used within the astrological community. The more scientific name for a Supermoon is a Perigee Moon. Perigee means the point at which the Moon is closest in its orbit to the Earth. Even more technically, a Supermoon is the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. Syzygy is when the Earth, the Moon and the Sun are aligned, which happens at every Full Moon or New Moon. Got it? The result is that a Supermoon can be regarding as the coincidence of the two, although they do not perfectly coincide each so. So, some Supermoons are bigger than other Supermoons.

Where did the name Supermoon come from?

The term Supermoon is not astronomical, but originated in modern astrology. The “Supermoon” was invented by an astrologer named Richard Nolle in 1979. He arbitrarily defined the term Supermoon as follows:

…a new or full moon which occurs with the Moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit (perigee). In short, Earth, Moon and Sun are all in a line, with Moon in its nearest approach to Earth.

Mr. Nolle claimed that the Moon causes “geophysical stress” during the time of a Supermoon, but that claim has since been refuted.

When do Supermoons happen?

In case you are interested, the full moon cycle is the period between alignments of the lunar perigee with the sun and the earth, which is about about 411.8 days. With some simple math, we’ve calculated that approximately every 14th Full Moon will be a Supermoon. However, there may be as many as three Supermoons per full moon cycle since halfway through the cycle the Full Moon will be close to apogee, and the New Moons immediately before and after can be Supermoons.

When is the next Supermoon?

When is the next Supermoon? What are the Supermoon dates? We have your answers right here in the following table.

Full MoonYearDate
Supermoon2014August 10
Supermoon2014September 9
Supermoon2015September 28
Supermoon2016November 14
Supermoon2018January 2

Do Supermoons affect the tides?

We are glad you asked. Since a Supermoon is closer to Earth than a non-Supermoon, the combined effect of the Sun and Moon on the Earth’s oceans (the “tide”) is at its greatest point. In general, the tide is greatest when the Moon is either a New Moon or a Full Moon, so a Supermoon makes it Supermoon. However, even at this powerful point, the force is still relatively weak, causing tidal differences of inches at most.

Do Supermoons cause natural disasters?

We just learned about the somewhat minor effect a Supermoon has on tides, but can a Supermoon cause natural disasters? Well, the evidence is not convincing as no evidence has been found of any correlation between Supermoons with major earthquakes. The theory is that the association of the Moon with both oceanic and crustal tides may lead to increased risk of events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. This is an interesting topic, so we will see if our astronomers and scientists can find anything conclusive.

Best place to view a Supermoon?

The best place to view a Supermoon is a place with clear skies!

Are Supermoons dangerous?

Although there is some superstition about Supermoons and Full Moons in general, a Supermoon isn’t likely to bring about the end of life as we know it. Although it could bring out the werewolf in you.

Popular Full Moon Calendars

Some popular full moon calendars, in addition to the Supermoon Calendar, include the following: Moon Calendar 2011, Moon Calendar 2012, Moon Calendar 2013, Moon Calendar 2014, Moon Calendar 2015, Moon Calendar 2016, Moon Calendar 2017, Moon Calendar 2018, Moon Calendar 2019, Moon Calendar 2020.

You can also check out our Full Moon Calendar, Lunar Calendar, Lunar Eclipse Calendar and Solar Eclipse Calendar!

Full Moon Names History

Supermoon Moon

Supermoon

Full Moon names have been used by many cultures to describe the full moon throughout the year. Specifically, Native American tribes used moon phases and cycles to keep track of the seasons by giving a distinctive name to each recurring full moon, including the Flower Moon. The unique full moon names were used to identify the entire month during which each occurred.

Although many Native American tribes gave distinct names to the full moon, the most well known full moon names come from the Algonquin tribes who lived in the area of New England and westward to Lake Superior. The Algonquin tribes had perhaps the greatest effect on the early European settlers in America, and the settlers adopted the Native American habit of naming the full moons.