WEST MICHIGAN — No doubt you’ve probably heard the term “Supermoon” thrown around a bit over the past few years. But what is a Supermoon?
A Supermoon is simply when either a full or new moon occurs closest to the earth. Unfortunately we can’t see the new moon, but the full moon offers a pretty good light and some bright reflection down on earth. Hence the term midnight sun! It’s hard to believe the moon only reflects about seven to nine percent of the incoming light…known as albedo. Imagine how bright it would be on earth if it reflected more. Remember, our moon has no light source of its own, it REFLECTS light from other sources…mainly our sun.
On average, our moon is about 225,000 miles away. At its farthest point (known as the apogee) it’s about 252,000 miles away. At its closest point (known as the perigee) it’s about 222,000 miles away from earth. That’s where we’ll be this weekend. The variance is all due to the elliptical orbit of the moon. This Supermoon will be the closest one since January 1948.
While it will be full and bright this weekend, the Supermoon can appear a bit larger than normal and up to 30 percent brighter for reasons mentioned. This time around it’s estimated to be about seven percent bigger and about 16 percent brighter. We already know that the gravitational pull of the moon affects our ocean tides each and every day, but what about during a Supermoon? It is thought that there is only a negligible effect above and beyond normal with higher tides.
We are expecting some decent sky conditions the next several days for viewing…so good luck. Plan on viewing the moon early Sunday morning, despite the fact Monday is better….clouds will likely be an issue by that time. Make sure to post your photos to our FOX 17 Facebook page. Happy viewing!