Eastern Kentucky Weather

SUPER TINY MOON coming to a sky near you

Last May, everyone got all excited about the so-called “Supermoon”. Technically speaking, it was the largest and brightest full Moon of the year. This was because the Moon reached its closest approach to the Earth, known as Perigee, less than an hour from the official time of full Moon. At that time it was 221,807 miles from the Earth.

The Director of the East Ky Science Center Steve Russo shared the following with me earlier and I wanted to share his words with you! Check it out!

 

Last May, everyone got all excited about the so-called “Supermoon”. Technically speaking, it was the largest and brightest full Moon of the year. This was because the Moon reached its closest approach to the Earth, known as Perigee, less than an hour from the official time of full Moon.  At that time it was 221,807 miles from the Earth. 

However, although it was 14 % larger than any other Full Moon in 2012, that’s a difference that no one would actually notice in the sky. Many people thought that it looked bigger because they viewed the Moon at Moonrise, and due to something called the “Moon Illusion”, the Full Moon ALWAYS looks bigger when it is rising. In reality, the actual size of the Moon in the sky doesn’t change much at all.

So while the “Supermoon” gets all the media hype every time it happens, no one ever pays attention to the “Super Tiny Moon”, until now!

On the evening of November 28, 2012, the Full Moon will occur within four hours of its furthest distance from Earth. Its furthest distance from Earth is known as Apogee, and at that time, the Moon will be 252,508 miles from our planet.

At the suggestion of one of my Planetarium colleagues, Kris McCall, Director of the Sudekum Planetarium in Nashville, TN, us Planetarium folk have decided to give this event “equal time”.

So while we are talking about the Moon, let’s look at a few things here.

We continuously hear of strange things happening during the Full Moon.  Supposedly, hospital admissions increase, the birthrate is higher, the crime rate goes up, and people behave weird. Even going back to the Middle Ages, there was an idea that the Full Moon caused mental disorders. The word "lunacy," meaning "insanity," comes from the Latin word for "Moon."  It is an “observable phenomenon”. If something strange happens and you go outside and see the bright, very noticeable, Full Moon, you remember that and tie the Moon to that event. If the same event happens and there is a Crescent Moon in the sky, you won’t remember it.

 

But hundreds of studies have been done during the past decades, and there is no correlation whatsoever with human behavior, crime rates, hospital visits, or anything relating to the Full Moon or any phase of the Moon. The Moon has no effect on the Earth at all other than affecting the tides, and it needs the Sun’s help and the shape of the shoreline to do that. 

 

Actually, while Lunar gravity can raise the tides a couple of inches, the shape of a shoreline can raise the tides six to 15 inches! Hurricane Sandy for example, was not actually a major hurricane (it was a category 2 storm) like people have been lead to believe. But because it coincided with another storm system, and hit the New York City Area during the Full Moon, the effects of the tidal surge were magnified.

So what about looking at the Super Tiny Moon this week? Go right ahead, and if you look at it, look during Moonrise, which will be after Sunset, and you will see something interesting; that “Moon Illusion” that I mentioned previously.

When Astronomical objects are close to the horizon, whether it’s the Moon, or the constellations, they will always look bigger, than when they are overhead. It’s a perception problem where the eye and brain don’t understand the correct size of objects when they are on the horizon where there are Earthly landmarks, and when the objects are overhead in a vast empty sky.

 

Now if you want to get the large Moon or constellations back to their regular size, turn around with your back to the Moon, bend over and look at it upside down from in between your legs. It will then get smaller! 

 

But maybe don’t do this in sight of your neighbors, because then they will think that the Full Moon is causing you to behave weirdly.  Then again, you can just wait until a few hours after Moonrise when it will be higher up in the sky, and it will appear smaller.

At any rate, we have dubbed this Full Moon on November 28th as the SUPER TINY MOON; a name originated by Kris McCall, and encourage everyone to go outside that night to see just how cute and tiny the Moon can be. Or can you tell the difference at all?  Oh, and Look for very bright Jupiter near the Moon.

“Look to the Skies!!!!”

Steve

Steven LJ Russo

Director, East Kentucky Science Center & Planetarium

Big Sandy Community and Technical College

One Bert T. Combs Drive

Prestonsburg, KY 41653

srusso0002@kctcs.edu

606-889-4809

http://www.bigsandy.kctcs.edu/eksc

Find us on Facebook at “East Kentucky Science Center and Planetarium”

 

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