A full moon is always intriguing. But a supermoon, well, they tend to attract a lot more attention and for good reason—they’re super-freaking amazing to see and there’s one happening this week. The supermoon will appear full for about three days, and the best time to observe it would be in the early hours of July 14. But, it should still appear full the day before and after.
This year has already seen one supermoon, last month in June. And while there are some people that think there will be another in August, we’ve found out that the July supermoon will be the most super of the year. It’s also got a pretty cool name, we think—the Buck Moon. It’s so-called thanks to the time of year when new antlers begin to emerge from buck’s heads.
But, that’s not its only name. Other Native American tribes call it Salmon Moon, Raspberry Moon, and Thunder Moon while the Celts called it the Claiming Moon, Wyrt Moon, Herb Moon and Mead Moon, and the Anglo-Saxons called it the Hay Moon.
A supermoon, or rather a full moon that coincides with the moon’s closest orbital point (called the perigee) to Earth, is actually 30 percent brighter in the night sky and 14 percent larger than when the moon is at its apogee—the furthest point from Earth. The closest point to Earth that this July’s supermoon will orbit will be 357417.6 kilometres.
The illumination of the July supermoon will be over 99%, so if we’re able to avoid cloud cover and adverse conditions, it will be quite the sight in our night sky. And if you want it to appear larger than it actually is, then look for the moon when it is closest to the horizon. Scientists call it the Moon Illusion.
Although the term supermoon has been around for forty-odd years, not everyone is happy with the name. The world’s most famous astrologer, Neil deGrasse Tyson who is currently the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, has said that there the very concept of a supermoon is an ”embarrassment to everything else we call super: Supernova, Supercollider, Superman, Super Mario Bros.”
This is presumably because there is no scientific evidence that supermoons actually influence or have had effects on the weather, volcanoes and earthquakes as some people believe they have.
Even still, we think they’re fascinating.