The biggest, brightest Moon of the year is almost here. On June 23, 2013, a Supermoon will be occurring. What that means is that the Moon will be closer to the Earth than at any other time during the year — in fact, the upcoming Super Moon will be the closest encounter between the Earth and the Moon until August 2014.
The Moon will reach its closest distance to the Earth at exactly 7:32 am EDT (4:32 am PDT) on June 23, but because it will be peaking in the early morning hours, both June 22 and June 23 will put on similar shows. So either day will be a good opportunity to see the larger-and-brighter-than-normal Supermoon.
This year the Supermoon will be up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than a typical Full Moon is. This is a result of the Moon reaching its perigee — the closest that it gets to the Earth during the course of its orbit. During perigee on June 23 the Moon will be “only” about 221,824 miles away, as compared to the 252,581 miles away that it is at its furthest distance from the Earth (apogee). The Moon will actually be at apogee only two weeks after the Supermoon, on July 7.
Something to note — Supermoons do create stronger tides than typical Full Moons do, though nothing extreme. What you’re likely to see are tides which are a couple of inches higher than usual. Of course, if such especially-high-tides happen to coincide with powerful storm systems, than significant flooding is a real possibility.
For information on the other great astronomical events of 2013 see: Astronomy 2013 : Comet ISON, Solar Eclipses, Meteor Showers, Supermoon, Etc
Here’s some background on the phenomena and on the terminology used (via Wikipedia):
A supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the moon’s disk as seen from Earth. The technical name is the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. The term ‘supermoon’ is not astronomical, but originated in modern astrology.The association of the Moon with both oceanic and crustal tides has led to claims that the supermoon phenomenon may be associated with increased risk of events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. However, the evidence of such a link is widely held to be unconvincing.
Enjoy the show. 🙂