It’s that time of year again – a bright supermoon will appear in the night sky.
Except that the supermoon may not appear that, well, super to our earthbound eyes.
“If you had a regular moon right next to a supermoon you could definitely see the difference, but you really won’t be able to notice much of a difference just looking at it in the sky,” said Mike Narlock, head astronomer at Cranbrook Institute of Science, to CBS.
An ever so slightly larger version of a full moon is called a supermoon, or more technically, a lunar perigee. The moon appears bigger because it orbits closer than usual to Earth. To the right is a comparison image of a full moon (left) and a supermoon (right).
Still, in case you’re interested, the perigee will occur on Sunday, August 30 at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), according to space.com. At that time, the moon will be around 222,631 miles (358,290 kilometers) away.
Unfortunately, that’s not the best time for those of you in North America. Your best bet is to view the full moon, which will be close to a perigee, on Saturday evening, August 29.
Although the supermoon may not appear as lustrous as its name, the closer distance is important. When the moon orbits this near to Earth, the ocean tides become stronger. Thus, on the day of the supermoon and for three days after, the Earth will experience larger than typical tides.
If you’re not in the mood to see a slightly larger moon, then perhaps check out the tides in your local area. Or even better, combine the two.
Image: Full moon (left) and supermoon (right). Credit: Marcoaliaslama / Wikimedia Common (CC BY-SA 3.0)