The Truth of the Supermoon
28 November 2016

On 14 November 2016, the so called phenomena the Supermoon was trending all over the social media; so what is the truth behind this rare phenomena?
One of the axioms of astronomy is that all the astronomical objects orbit in elliptical orbits. For those who do not know this well-known information since Galileo’s and Kepler’s times, in some cases during the Moon’s orbit around the Earth, the Moon comes to the closest point to the Earth and in other cases it is at the farthest point from the Earth. That point in the orbit where the Moon is at the closest point to the Earth is called Perigee. During this period the Moon is only 348,294 kilometers far from Earth. But when the Moon is at its farthest point from Earth, this is called Apogee where the moon is 398, 581 kilometers far from Earth.
When a full Moon coincides with Perigee, this is called a Supermoon because the Moon is a little bit bigger than its normal size. The supermoon does not occur every month, but surprisingly a super crescent might occur when the crescent coincides with a Perigee.
Astronomy amateurs race to take pictures of the supermoon because it is really a breathtaking scene specially during its rise. But some photographers exaggerated a lot in inserting the picture of the full supermoon next to some of the famous landmarks, although the supermoon is only 14% bigger than the normal full Moon.
This phenomenon will occur again next month, specifically during the full moon of Rabi’ El-awal and more specifically on the night of 14 December 2016.

Dr. Omar Fikry
News Center

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