Skywatchers have enjoyed spectacular views of this month’s “supermoon” – when the Moon appears larger and brighter in the sky.The supermoon phenomenon happens when the Moon reaches its closest point to Earth, known as a perigee Moon.The Moon circuits the Earth in an elliptical or oval orbit – a supermoon occurs when the perigee Moon is also a full Moon.The supermoon was the last opportunity to see one in 2017.
To observers, the Moon appears about 7% larger and 15% brighter, although the difference is barely noticeable to the human eye.Last year the Moon made its closest approach to Earth since 1948 – it will not be that close again until 25 November 2034.Nasa has called this weekend’s sighting the first in a “supermoon trilogy” over the next two months, with others to come on 1 January and 31 January.Top tips to photograph a supermoonDecember’s full Moon is traditionally known as the cold Moon.The full Moon on Sunday afternoon – when it sits opposite the sun in the sky – was 222,761 miles from Earth, closer than its average 238,900 miles.
This Moon’s elliptical orbit means that its distance from Earth is not constant but varies across a full orbit. But within this uneven orbit there are further variations caused by the Earth’s movements around the Sun. These mean that the perigee – the closest approach – and full moon are not always in sync.But occasions when the perigee and full moon coincide have become known as supermoons.
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Source: BBC Tyne and Wear