Supermoon: Just the Facts

Named by Richard Nolle in 1979, the moon shifts into a "supermoon" state when its orbit is perigee to the Earth during a full moon. It also references the geometric alignment of the sun, Earth, and moon.

Photo by Brian McMahon on Unsplash
Photo by Brian McMahon on Unsplash

Perigee, by definition, occurs when the moon is closest to the Earth at an estimated 226,000 miles away. During perigee, a full moon will appear bigger and brighter than an ordinary full moon, hence the name "supermoon." The opposite of perigee is apogee. Apogee occurs when the moon is farthest away from the Earth at an approximate distance of 253,000 miles. As it orbits the Earth in an ellipse, the moon is pulled closer to and farther from the planet throughout its rotations. While in orbit, a full moon that peaks within 10 hours of its closest proximity to the Earth is a true supermoon.

Photo by Rahul Bhosale on Unsplash
Photo by Rahul Bhosale on Unsplash

The Supermoon's 4 Names & Meanings

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), July's supermoon answers to Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, the Hay Moon, and the Mead Moon. Recognized by the Maine Farmer's Almanac during the 1930s, the supermoon's four names are Native American, specifically Algonquin, in origin.

  • Buck Moon: refers to early summer when buck deer sprout new antlers coated in velvet-like fur
  • Thunder Moon: references the thunder storms of early summer
  • Hay Moon: a reference to the European haymaking season during June & July
  • Mead Moon: derived from Hay Moon; the combination of honey & water with fruits, spices, grains & hops create mead
Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny on Unsplash
Photo by Krzysztof Niewolny on Unsplash

Buck Moon: the when & where

  • ICYMI: the Buck Moon made its initial appearance in today's early morning sky
  • It reaches full moon status at 12:48 p.m. MST tomorrow, Wednesday, July 13th, & lasts through Friday, July 15th
  • According to NASA, full visibility in North America is expected at moonrise
  • The best seats in the house are found on the West Coast & in the Great Plains of the Midwest
  • For the best views of the red-mooned beauty, avoid heavily lit areas & those with tall buildings & forestry

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