Friday, July 11, 2014

2014's "Super Moons"

When I got into the hobby of astronomy six years ago, I had never heard of a "Super Moon." In the last few years, though, it seems that at least one full Moon each year has been called a "Super Moon" by the media. This year we have a whopping three "Super Moons." As an avid lunar observer, I absolutely detest this term. It's misleading. Naked eye, I cannot tell a difference in the size of the full Moon from month to month.

Michael Bakich has a great article on "Super Moons" in the August 2014 issue of Astronomy magazine. While Bakich states that the term "Super Moon" "beats the astronomical term, perigee syzygy Moon," I disagree. Give me the geeky name, and let folks use their Google skills.

The first of these three 2014 "Super Moons" will be Saturday, July 12. Here in Northwest Indiana, the Moon will reach the moment of "full" at 7:04 AM CDST according to Arlington Heights astronomer Curt Renz, not long after the Moon sets. Of course, seeing it close to the horizon, just before it reaches full, it will no doubt look bigger because of the Moon Illusion. From North America, you could justifiably call either Friday or Saturday night's Moon "full," although Friday the Moon will be more fully illuminated.

Curt Renz has nice graphics showing the relative distances of the full Moons for 2014, seen below.

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For full resolution, and other Moon related graphics, go to

It just so happens that I observed both the June 2013 perigee (closest) full Moon and the January 2014 apogee (farthest) full Moon. While I can tell that the June Moon appears slightly larger in my images, keep in mind these were taken at 60x magnification. With the naked eye, the difference is rather negligible. 

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June 2013 perigee Moon observation at Valparaiso's Central Park Plaza.

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January 2014 apogee Moon observation in front of the Porter County Courthouse, in the extreme polar vortex cold.

For more on this year's "Super Moons," try the following articles.

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