MONTCLAIR, NJ - Last night's moon was more than a regular full moon, astrologists have called it a supermoon. A supermoon occurs when a full moon approaches the Earth on its elliptical orbit closely, best resulting in a large appearance as seen from the Earth.
The technical term that is used within the astronomical community is called a perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. Perigee is when the Moon is closest in orbit to the Earth and Syzygy is the term for full or new moon when the Earth, Moon and Sun align.
The term supermoon is a new-age term that was first coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979. However, many astronomers refer to it by its technical term, “perigee moon”. According to NASA, a supermoon is up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than a regular full moon at its farthest point from the Earth. When a moon is farthest away from the earth, that is called apogee.
The appearance of a larger and low-hanging moon occurs when the Moon is near the horizon.
The illusion of the Moon growing in size during the perigee phenomenon is not yet fully understood by astronomers and occurs about every 411 days. Astronomists note that approximately every 14th full Moon will be a supermoon with as many as three supermoons per full moon cycle. Thus explaining why each full Moon of this summer of 2014 will all be supermoons. NASA says that the supermoon took place at 7:25am.
This sequence is not a rare occurrence says Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory. "Generally speaking, full Moons occur near perigee every 13 months and 18 days, so it's not all that unusual," he says. "In fact, just last year there were three perigee Moons in a row, but only one was widely reported."
The summer of 2014 will bring three supermoons, with the first supermoon having took place last night. NASA reports the next supermoon will occur on August 10th, will be the closest and will appear to be the largest supermoon of 2014 with the third supermoon taking place on September 9th.
The NASA video below explains more.