A supermoon occurs when the Moon’s orbit is closest (perigee) to Earth at the same time the Moon is full. So what's so special about a supermoon? For the interested observer, there's plenty to see and learn.
The Moon orbits Earth in an ellipse, an oval that brings it closer to and farther from Earth as it goes around.
The farthest point in this ellipse is called theapogeeand is about 253,000 miles (405,500 kilometers) from Earth on average.
Its closest point is theperigee, which is an average distance of about 226,000 miles (363,300 kilometers) from Earth.
When a full moon appears at perigee it is slightly brighter and larger than a regular full moon – and that's where we get a "supermoon.
What is the history of supermoons?
So where does the supermoon idea originate? Astrologer Richard Nolle cleverly created the term “supermoon” back in 1979—the year after the modern movie debuted in 1978, in fact. Superman
So despite their recent hype in horoscopes, supermoons are not actually a new phenomenon. Some stargazers have observed that these larger-appearing moons have coincided with earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. However, the tides are pulled the strongest by any new or full moon, so it’s hard to say if the super-charged beams are to blame.
How often does a supermoon occur?
A full Moon occurs once in each lunar cycle, which lasts 29.5 days. But not every full Moon is a supermoon - there are only usually three or four supermoons in a year. Between 2020 and 2025, there will be four each year.
Sara explains, 'During a supermoon, the Moon is at a stage where it is closest to Earth. This will typically last for two to five full Moons, so that's why there are multiple supermoons in a row. After that, the Moon goes into the more distant part of its orbit.' Do supermoons cause natural disasters?
The ocean's tides are caused by the gravitational forces of both the Sun and the Moon. Some theories suggest that supermoons can cause dramatic natural events, such as massive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Sara disagrees: 'There seems to be no basis for thinking this is the case. Natural disasters are no more common when there is a supermoon than when there is not.
'There will be an effect on tides, but this is very tiny, perhaps only affecting them by a few centimetres at the most.'
Types of supermoons
-Supermoon: A supermoon is a full Moon or a new Moon that approximately coincides with the closest distance that the Moon reaches to Earth in its elliptic orbit.
-Micro moon: A micro moon is a full or new moon that occurs at the point in the Moon's orbit where it is farthest from Earth.
-Lunar eclipse supermoon: A lunar eclipse supermoon is a supermoon that occurs during a total lunar eclipse. The Moon will appear red or coppery during a total lunar eclipse supermoon.
-Super blue blood moon: A super blue blood moon is a combination of three separate lunar events: a supermoon, a blue moon, and a blood moon. A super blue blood moon occurs when a blue Moon coincides with a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse.
How can I see a supermoon?
The best time to see a supermoon is just after sunset or just before sunrise, when the Moon is near the horizon. This is because the Moon will appear larger when it is close to the horizon than it does when it is high in the sky.
You don't need any special equipment to see a supermoon – a pair of binoculars will help you see the Moon's larger size and brighter color.
If you want to photograph a supermoon, you will need a DSLR camera or a telescope. You will also need a tripod to keep your camera steady.
Full supermoons in 2022
Fred Espenak’s full supermoon table gives us these values – dates and moon distances – for supermoons in 2022. Contrast these moon distances to the average moon distance of 238,900 miles (384,472 km).
May 16 225,015 miles (362,127 km)
June 14 222,238 miles (357,658 km)
July 13 222,089 miles (357,418 km)
August 12 224,569 miles (361,409 km)
The supermoon of May 16, 2022, will undergo a total lunar eclipse, visible from North America.
The supermoon of July 13 will be the closest supermoon for 2022. On that date, full moon and lunar perigee fall on the same day.
New supermoons in 2022
Fred Espenak does not have a table for new moon supermoons. But we can figure out the dates from other tables on his Astropixels website. We’ll have new supermoons in 2022 on:
January 2 222,478 miles (358,044 km)
February 1 226,493 miles (364,505 km)
December 23 223,702 miles (360,013 km)
When to See the Full Moon in June 2022
In the evening of Tuesday, June 14—just after sunset—look towards the southeast to watch the full Moon rise gently above the horizon. There, it will appear large and golden-hued.
June’s full Moon will reach peak illumination at 7:52 A.M. Eastern Time on June 14, but will not be visible in North American time zones until later that night, when it drifts above the horizon. Consult the Almanac’s Moonrise and Moonset Calculator.
Because the Full Moon is an early morning, expect that the Moon will appear full for about three days centered on this time, from Sunday evening through Wednesday morning. See the Almanac’s Moon Phase Calendar.
A supermoon is a full or new moon that occurs at the point in the Moon's orbit where it is closest to Earth. Supermoons can appear up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than a regular full moon. You don't need any special equipment to see a supermoon – a pair of binoculars will help you see the Moon's larger size and brighter color. If you want to photograph a supermoon, you will need a DSLR camera or a telescope. You can best see a supermoon just after sunset or just before sunrise when the Moon is near the horizon. This is because the Moon will appear larger when it is close to the horizon than it does when it is high in the sky.