How ‘super’ is the supermoon?

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – The second supermoon of the year will try to make an appearance Sunday, weather permitting.
But is the supermoon as “super” as they say?

One of the hottest astronomical trends of the year has been the supermoon, but what is a supermoon?

Astronomer Ed Harfmann said “the supermoon is when the moon is actually a little closer to us. It’s not all that much, but it ends up being around 13% brighter than when it is further away.”

Astrologists, not astronomers, coined the term almost 40 years ago. Since then, when the moon is full and in it’s closest point of orbit this is how it is described, a supermoon.

“To be honest the full moon is very boring to look at. It’s much more interesting to look at a moon that’s in one of its other phases. You actually get to see the craters and contrast and relief it’s much more exciting of a moon to look at” explained Harfmann.

No other time than now has this been more true.

Currently, two separate events will be happening at the same time. Sunday night’s supermoon will be over shadowing the Perseids meteor shower, which continues into Monday and Tuesday. Since the moon is so bright seeing some of these shooting stars will be increasingly more difficult.

“Just like it makes the stars and the nebula and galaxy harder for us to see, it makes the shooting stars harder to see. A lot of the dust that comes in with part of this shower is very small, and it makes very light tracks in the night sky. And so those can be washed out by the moon” Harfmann said.

In fact, a full moon at any time makes star gazing difficult. Just because they’re beautiful to the naked eye, they’re nothing more than a bother to an astronomer.

“From our point of view, it’s kind of a pain because just like a search light. You can see the beam of light going up into the night’s sky. The moon is doing that to us and really every full moon is a pain for us, but we deal with and move on.”

Harfmann says the most impressive of all the views can be seen where there is little to no light pollution from cities and towns. He encourages when the sky clears to find a field or prairie far away from light to take in some of nature’s true beauty.

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