Saint Michael’s College Professor Explains ‘Supermoon’

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If you noticed the moon appeared a bit larger, and brighter last night you aren’t alone.

Videos and pictures flooded social media on Sunday night, as the ‘supermoon’ rose high into the evening sky.

But what is a supermoon, why is it special. All questions we asked John O’Meara, an Associate Professor of Physics at Saint Michael’s College.

“A supermoon happens when two things occur simultaneously. The first is, it’s a full moon. Second is the full moon occurs when roughly when the moon is at it’s closest approach to the earth,” O’Meara said.

He has studied beyond the earth’s atmosphere for nearly two decades, and said last night’s supermoon was special.

“It’s special because the moon is going to occur a bit bigger than it usually would, and when it’s a bit bigger, the brightness goes up,” O’Meara said.

O’Meara calls it a fun coincidence of orbital mechanics, because the moon doesn’t travel in a perfect circle around Earth.

“It actually orbits a bit closer sometimes, and a bit further away at other times. It’s called an ellipse,” O’Meara said.

“The coolest thing about the supermoon is that we can predict it. We knew exactly it was going to happen today. We know the next great supermoon is going to happen in 2034,” O’Meara said.

For more information regarding the supermoon you can find it here.
 

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