Monday, June 17, 2013


Not all moons are created equal.  The full moon on Saturday June 22, 2013 will appear bigger and brighter than any other moon this year.  But the question is, “Can you tell the difference?”

As the Moon orbits the Earth, it slowly changes its distance from us.  It varies from about 252,000 miles at its farthest, to around 220,500 miles at its closest.  When you combine the night when the full moon is also closest to us, that is called a SUPERMOON.

The Moon’s distance changes very slowly.  You can’t tell the difference from night to night.  But if you compare Saturday’s Supermoon to the farthest full moon, the so-called Wimpy Moon of January 15, 2014, the difference is dramatic.  The Supermoon is over 31,000 miles closer, appears 14% larger in diameter and 30% larger in surface area than the Wimpy Moon.  Open the picture above in a new window to see more details.

The best time to see the Supermoon is just as it rises.  In the Cincinnati area, the Moon will rise over the eastern horizon at 8:20pm.  You may have trouble seeing it right away since the sky won’t be completely dark.  Keep looking because as the Sun sets, the full Moon will rise.  The Moon always looks larger near the horizon but it’s merely an illusion.  Technically, the Moon will be over one thousand miles closer around 1:30am on Sunday morning when it will be higher in the south.  That would be the Super-est Moon.       

Since the changing Moon distance is a slow process, Sunday night will provide an encore.  The full moon rising at 9:20pm on June 23 will be less than 1% farther than that of June 22. 

Look for the Supermoon(s) this weekend and see if you can spot the difference.