The third so-called supermoon for 2014 is about to happen. Supermoon is when Moon is at perigee to Earth. An eight year old explained perigee to me the other day. He said this is when the Moon is close to the Earth because of the slight oval path it takes around our planet. That was a pretty good explanation which he had learnt last supermoon. Geoff Wyatt, Sydney Observatory education officer says supermoons occur when Earth’s celestial neighbour comes up to 50-thousand kilometres closer to us thanks to its elliptical orbit. You can see how slight the ellipse is in this You Tube clip.
If you are the early bird, look west Tuesday morning, 9 September, before Moon set at 5:02am. That evening Moon will rise at 17:59 AEST and, if the weather is clear, look to the east.
There are some common questions we get when there are supermoons:
Does supermoon mean super tides? On Monday 8 September at 19:33 there was a high tide of 1.9metres, tomorrow it will be a little smaller reaching 1.88metres at 20:23. These are ordinary tide heights around the full Moon, and many months when there is not a supermoon the high tide exceeds these measurements.
Does supermoon mean there will be werewolves? There is no evidence that this has occurred on a full or a supermoon, but if you see one please let us know only if you have non-refutable images of it and the supermoon.
If supermoon can teach 8 year olds the meaning of the word ‘perigee’ then it’s worth singing about: ‘Shine on, shine on supermoon ….’.
PS: Daily cosmobite astronomy curator, Dr Nick Lomb, is having a break so please excuse the less regular blogs. We will try to keep you informed regularly.