The Supermoon Returns

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The Second and Largest of Three in 2014

If you were a fan of the beautiful sight of last months supermoon, get ready. The biggest one this year is happening again tonight! A “supermoon” is the unofficial name given to the phenomenon of a perigee(proxigee)-full moon. So let’s break down the specifics:

Perigee is the time, in the moon’s elliptical orbit, when it passes closest to the earth. Proxigee is the term used when the moon comes the closest to the earth.  This happens once every orbit, so roughly once every 25.9 days. This makes the moon about 10-15% larger in the night sky. In perigee, the moon is about 31,000 miles closer to the earth than average. While this may seem like a lot, it turns out to be only a fraction closer (due to the vastness of space).

As we all know, a full moon occurs roughly once a month (every 29.53 days). This is no secret and fairly common. So if both events occur so frequently, why is the event so special?

What makes the supermoon so special is the fact that the perigee(proxigee) and the full moon are occurring at the same time.  This phenomenon occurs a few times every 1 year and 48 days. We will have one more supermoon next month, however it will not be as big as the one this month. The next to occur after that will be in the Fall of 2015. There can be 2-3 perigee-full moons in a year, but only one proxigee-full moon.

Viewing: Because the moon is set to reach it’s full point at 11:10 a.m. Sunday, the best times to view will be both Saturday and Sunday overnight.  Weather models are showing that skies will be mostly to partly clear each night. Fog will start forming in the early morning for the coast and parts of the Umpqua Basin, therefore if you live in these areas, the best viewing will be after moonrise on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Lagniappe Trivia:

If the moon is full and in it’s apogee stage (furthest away from the earth), the moon is called a “Micro Moon” A micro moon is 10-15% smaller and 30% dimmer. This also occurs about as frequently as a supermoon.

Meteorologist Seth Phillips