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Super Moon – Super Full Moon

A super full moon occurs when the moon’s closest approach to the Earth (lunar perigee) coincides with the phase of full moon. When this happens the moon may seem bigger and brighter. However, for the ordinary star-gazer there will be no significant difference.

Use the Moon Distance Calculator to find out when the next super full moon will occur in your location.

Illustration image

During a super full moon, the moon may appear bigger and brighter.

©iStockphoto.com/Hydromet

What is a Super Full Moon?

The distance of the moon from the Earth varies throughout the month and year. The average distance is about 238,000 miles (382,900 kilometers). The moon's position furthest away from Earth is called “apogee” while its closest approach to Earth is referred to as “perigee”. These events do not regularly coincide with the phases of the moon. However, it can happen that the moon is at perigee during the phase of full moon. This event is referred to as Super Full Moon.

What happens if a full moon occurs at apogee?

There are no universal rules as to how close the moon must be to qualify as a Super Full Moon. timeanddate.com uses the following definition:

Terminology

The technical term for a Super Full Moon is “perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system”. In astronomy, the term “syzygy” refers to the straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies, which also occurs during a full moon (Sun – Earth – Moon).

The super full moon is also colloquially referred to as “supermoon”, which is a term coined by astrologer Richard Nolle.

What is a Blue Moon?

Natural disaster trigger?

Fears that a Super Full Moon may increase the probability and severity of natural disasters can also be traced back to theories devised by astrologers. Richard Nolle claims that when the moon goes super extreme, the results will be huge storms, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and other natural disasters. However, none of these claims withstand scientific scrutiny, and fears of the disaster-inducing potential of Super Full Moons are unfounded.

Although the sun and the moon’s alignment cause a small increase in tectonic activity, the effects of the Super Full Moon on Earth are minor. Many scientists have conducted studies and haven’t found anything significant that can link the Super Full Moon to natural disasters.

According to NASA, the combination of the moon being at its closest and in its “full moon” phase, should not affect the internal energy balance of the Earth since there are lunar tides every day. There is a small difference in tidal forces exerted by the moon’s gravitational pull at lunar perigee. However, they are too small to overcome the larger forces within the planet.

Typical Effects of the Moon

The moon is the Earth’s only natural satellite and the second brightest object in the sky after the Sun due to its soil’s reflective properties. It is in a synchronous rotation with the Earth, spinning at about the same speed and direction as it orbits around the Earth. This means that the same side always faces the Earth, and the half of the moon's surface that is facing outwards is never directly visible from Earth.

The tides on Earth are mostly generated by the intensity of the Moon’s gravitational pull from one side of the Earth to the other. The moon’s gravity can cause small ebbs and flows in the continents called land tides or solid Earth tides. These are greatest during the full and new moons because the sun and moon are aligned on the same or opposite sides of the Earth.

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