This weekend is set to be a visual treat for amateur astronomers as the planet’s only natural satellite is set for a close up. The so called “Supermoon” is set to appear this Friday evening. Those hoping to see the moon at a larger-than-life size will need clear skies, and they’ll need to have a view of the Moon close to the horizon.
A Supermoon occurs when on the occasion of a full moon when the satellite is unusually close to the earth. The moon orbits the blue planet along an elliptical path. That means that it travels closer and further away from the earth depending on its position in orbit. For those who can’t make it out to see the Supermoon this Saturday morning and Friday night there are other opportunities on the way. Two more full moons due this Summer, on August 10 and a second on September 9, will also be Supermoons.
The moon travels further from earth
The moon’s orbit around the earth lasts for just over 400 days. That means that a Supermoon isn’t all thatuncommon, but there may be other reasons to take a look at the object this weekend. Despite the moon’s apparent closeness this weekend, and for the rest of the Summer, the giant body is actually getting further away from out planet.
According to astronomers the satellite is distancing itself at a rate of about 2.5 centimeters per year. That means that the Supermoons this Summer may be the closest many of us will ever see our neighbor.
The closest Supermoon of the Summer is set to occur on August 10, so those looking to get personal with the orbiting mass should book the date in their calendars. The difference in subjective magnitude between this summer’s three appearances of the giant moon may be difficult to differentiate so this Saturday’s presentation should suffice for most.
Astrology and the Supermoon
The technical name for the Supermoon is perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system, and those looking for a more scientific word may be forced to use it this weekend. The word Supermoon couldn’t be further from the realm of science, having originated in Astrology in the twentieth century. The occurence has been linked to all manner of astrological affects, and some physical ones.
Some observers have suggested that the Supermoon’s closeness could act as a catalyst for various natural disasters with Tsunamis and Earthquakes being at the top of the list. While the phenomenon naturally affects the tides there is no evidence to suggest that it has an undue effect on the world’s tectonic plates.
Astrologists on the other hand are seemingly convinced that the Supermoon is capable of making people more emotional, spurring new beginnings and apparently result in some kind of hysteria among the female of the species.