Saturday, May 05, 2012

'SuperMoon' Anchorage

The Anchorage Daily News carried an LA Times story today about tonight's 'supermoon.'

We got a preview coming out of the Thai Kitchen last night.

But Earthsky quibbles with the word 'supermoon.'

We astronomers call this sort of close full moon a perigee full moon. [The LA Times article also mentions perigree.]  The word perigee describes the moon’s closest point to Earth for a given month. But last year, when the closest and largest full moon occurred on March 19, 2011, many used a term we’d never heard: supermoon. We’ve heard this term again at this 2012 close full moon. What does it mean exactly? And how special is the May 5, 2012 supermoon?
. . . Will you be able to notice with your eye alone that tonight's full moon is bigger or brighter than usual? Astronomers say no, but it'll be fun to stand outside under tonight's full moon and know the moon is closer than it has been since March 19, 2011.  The word supermoon didn’t come from astronomy. Instead, it came from astrology. Astrologer Richard Nolle of the website takes credit for coining the term supermoon. In 1979, he defined it as:
…a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit (perigee). In short, Earth, moon and sun are all in a line, with moon in its nearest approach to Earth.

You can read more at Earthsky.


  1. "Will you be able to notice with your eye alone that tonight's full moon is bigger or brighter than usual? Astronomers say no, but it'll be fun to stand outside under tonight's full moon and know the moon is closer than it has been since March 19, 2011."

    Well what's the f-cking point? Jesus, I'm sick of pointless stories like this, no matter their supposed celectial signifigance.

    1. "Well what's the f-cking point? Jesus, I'm sick of pointless commenters like this, no matter their supposed self-aggrandizing significance."

      There, I fixed your typos. Time for you to fix your attitude.

  2. I'm sick of anonowhiners. If you don't like what Steve writes, go somewhere else. No one forces you to come here.

    FYI, last night also had the lowest and highest tides of the year, also because of the multiple alignment.

    1. Actually, the high of the year is Nov 14th this year at a 20.5. The lowest is tomorrow at almost 9am, a minus 4.8.

      I've been playing on the Wetlands with dogs all spring and was planning to cross the channel tomorrow at the lowest tide. We crossed on Easter from Sunny Pt and it was a blast. This time we'll cross from the dike trail, weather permitting, as hubby is flying in so we are just right there already.

      If you cross from the mainland side, just look for channel marker 17 to bring you right over to Nine Mile Crk Rd, it's easy and fun. At a super low like that, you don't even need boots. But since we live in them anyway...

      I wanted to see that moon so badly! I caught the full moon just before Easter this year while on the wetlands and caught a picture of it rising behind Mt. Juneau at the moment when it looked like it was rolling down the mountain.

      Steve, thanks for that pic! Hubby is in Anchorage and I bugged him to keep an eye out up there as it was crappy down here. He was instructed to take pics, and what did he do? He played at a trade show, said it was cloudy, and forgot all about it. Husbands! Can't live with or without. Really could, but don't want to.

      Yay! Supermoon! I get excited about these things.

  3. Harpboy, I appreciate that you want to stand up for me, but don't tell readers to go away! Engage them in the debate. Address his complaint. Is he right? What is the point? What's the point of any of the posts?

    Anon, I think you're right. The part of the quote you cite is a little silly. Though it does mesh with my underlying theme here - how do you know what you know? Some things, like the moon being closer than normal, is something we wouldn't know if astronomers didn't measure. I wonder if people 500 years ago could tell the difference, simply because without electric lights they saw the moon and stars more clearly. Lack of electricity also meant their night time entertainment was limited so they knew the night sky much better than we do

    Also, I was a little put off by the hypiness of the term supermoon and was pleased to see this was some astrologer's term that the media seem to love. That's why I put it in quotes in the title.

    And it gave some context for the photo I'd taken the night before. Actually the moon did seem to be pretty big. But I figured it was caused by the thin clouds fuzzing the moon's edges.

    But Anon, my question to you is this: To what extent is your comment related to the post and to what extent is it about your mood tonight and things going on in your life? Maybe you're not happy because you are spending Saturday night surfing the internet. Or are you tired of all the supermoon hype? But then, why would you follow a link to see another such post?

    Was it just that one line that upset you? Or the whole post? Just curious.

  4. Steve, I like your answer to the anonymous Grumpy!
    The Sun, Moon, Earth in-line effects are well documented and include, as Harpboy mentions, very high tides. As you explain so patiently, prior to technological advances in the very recent past, natural phenomena had to be closely observed by everyone. It was a matter of survival then, as it is now.
    Except now we have outsourced those observations to trained meteorologists. While this is a lifesaving advantage in so many ways, it also has added to an arrogance and sense of superiority that comes with detachment from even basic understandings of the workings of not only this Blue Marble, but of the Universe itself.
    But then again, I am just another What Do I Know questioner...

  5. Martha, somehow your comments weren't up when I first responded, so didn't acknowledge your contributions. Thanks. It was cloudy here last night and I didn't see the moon. The pic was the night before.

    Diagonal, you added important stuff about our relationship with nature that I neglected. Thanks.

    1. Then maybe hubby wasn't slacking after all! I will try to remember "perigee full moon" next year while I'm reminding everyone to keep an eye out for it.

      If you return to Juneau next year, be sure to check out the channel crossing in the spring. April, all month, is perfect for it. The grass is down, there's no stinky dead fish for dogs to love, and the view goes on forever in the middle of the channel. It's the coolest.


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