Your ‘Supermoon’ Images from Around the World


We asked for ’em, and you sent ’em in: here are great images of the perigee Moon on May 5, 2012, the largest full Moon of the year taken by our readers.

The perigee Moon as seen in Opelika, Alabama USA. Credit: Jacob Marchio.
The Supermoon on a finger, as seen in Aguilas, Murcia Spain. Credit: Tapani Isomäki
An artist's view of the 'Supermoon.' Credit: Omer Sidat.
Largest Full Moon for 2012 from Dayton, Ohio USA. Credit: John Chumack.
Perigee Moon on May 5, 2012 from Altamonte Springs, Florida USA. Credit: Austin Russie.
A shy supermoon from Brick Landing, North Carolina USA. Credit: Tavi Greiner.
The supermoon from Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Credit: jimctu on Flickr
Preparing for a Supermoon, on May 3, 2012 from Wauseon, Ohio. Credit: Bill Schlosser.
A lovely Moonrise at Soldier's Beach off the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Credit: Kerry Middlemiss
'Taken from the Marin Headlands with about 573 other photographer friends. I used my Orion ED Refractor telescope for a lens,' said photographer Ted Judah.
Supermoon over the Pacific, taken at Goblets Beach in Santa Barbara, California, USA. Credit: Jonathan Vail.
Full Super Moon rising over UC Berkeley Sather Tower Campanile and International House. Credit: Ira Serkes.
Super full Moon over Tucson, Arizona, USA. Credit: 'Sifted Reality' on Flickr.
Digiscope of the 2012 Supermoon, São Paulo, Brazil. Credit: Monica, 'MoniBR' on Flickr.
The perigee full Moon from Cocoa Beach, Florida, USA. Credit: Jamie Rich.
The perigee Moon from Toronto, Canada. Credit: Rick Ellis.
The Moon on May 6, 2012 in Mandan, North Dakota, USA. Credit: Jola Boehm

And speaking of images from ‘around the world,’ here’s one from the International Space Station:

The perigee full Moon on May 5, 2012, as seen through Earth’s atmosphere, which bends the light from the Moon, making it appear squished. Credit: Andre Kuipers/ESA/NASA

Thanks to everyone who sent in their images and posted them to our Flickr page. See more images and find more from our contributors at Universe Today’s Flickr page.

Super Moon? How About a Super Sun!


On May 5, 2012, while everyone else was waiting for the “Super Moon” astrophotographer Alan Friedman was out capturing this super image of a super Sun from his back yard in Buffalo, NY!

Taken with a specialized telescope that can image the Sun in hydrogen alpha light, Alan’s photo shows the intricate detail of our home star’s chromosphere — the layer just above its “surface”, or photosphere.

Prominences can be seen rising up from the Sun’s limb in several places, and long filaments — magnetically-suspended  lines of plasma — arch across its face. The “fuzzy” texture is caused by smaller features called spicules and fibrils, which are short-lived spikes of magnetic fields that rapidly rise up from the surface of the Sun.

On the left side it appears that a prominence may have had just detached from the Sun’s limb, as there’s a faint cloud of material suspended there.

Alan masterfully captures the Sun’s finer details in his images on a fairly regular basis… see more of his solar (and lunar, and… vintage headwear) photography on his blog site here.

Image © Alan Friedman. All rights reserved.

Supermoon This Weekend


This weekend will provide the full Moon’s closest approach of the year to Earth. On Saturday, May 5, 2012 the Moon could appear as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full Moons of 2012, according to some calculations. Will you notice it? Not if you haven’t really been paying attention, or have a reference point to compare it to other full Moons. And it certainly won’t have any adverse effects on Earth, as this closest approach happens every year — just a fact of orbital mechanics. But perhaps a great way to celebrate Cinco de Mayo is to spend the evening gazing at the Moon!

Every month, as the Moon circles the Earth in its elongated orbit, its distance from the Earth varies. This weekend, the Moon is reaching what’s known as its perigee, the closest point to Earth in its orbit. It will be about 356,953 kilometers (221,802 miles) from Earth on Saturday. Apogee — when the Moon is farthest away — varies, but is around 405,000 km (252,000 miles) away.

What is most interesting is that the timing of the perigee and full Moon is really, really close: The full moon occurs at 03:34 UTC on May 6 (11:34 p.m. EDT on May 5 )eastern and perigee follows at 03:35 UTC (11:35 p.m. EDT)

David Morrison, from NASA says “supermoon” is not an astronomical term and he confirms a supermoon has no effect on Earth, and that the change in size is hardly noticeable to the average person. If you miss it, the Moon will be very nearly as close at the next full Moon, and very nearly as close as it was at the last full Moon.

But even better is that two weeks after the “supermoon” on May 5th, the Moon will be at apogee as it lines up in front of the Sun for an amazing annular eclipse on May 20th. An annular eclipse occurs when the Sun and Moon are exactly in line, but the apparent size of the Moon is smaller than that of the Sun. Hence the Sun appears as a very bright ring, or annulus, surrounding the outline of the Moon.

If you’re a photographer, take a picture of the Moon and send it to us. If we get a some good images, we’ll share them. Join our Flickr group, or send us your images by email (this means you’re giving us permission to post them). Please explain a little about it such as when you took it, the equipment you used, etc.

Here’s a video NASA put out about the Supermoon:

Your Pictures of the “Super” Full Moon


How super was your full Moon on March 19, 2011? I was completely clouded out, but thankfully quite a few people have been kind enough to share their images. Here are a pictures sent in by readers, as well as via Twitter and Facebook. We’ve got images from all around the world, and even though the size of the Moon really wasn’t that much bigger than usual, (read here why not) it is great to see so many people getting out and looking up at the sky! Our lead image comes from Rasid Tugral in Ankara, Turkey.

This view of the March 19, 2011 full Moon was taken on West Kennet Avenue at the Avebury Stone Circle in Wiltshire. Credit: Pete Glastonbury
Perigee moonrise from Rothenfels, Germany. Credit: Daniel Fischer.

This one is from Daniel Fischer , who took a series of images of the Perigee moonrise sequence from Rothenfels, Germany.

Perigee Moon. Credit: Jason Major

Jason Major from Lights in the Dark created this image from a combination of two exposures from his Nikon D80 and 200mm telephoto.

The full super moon. Credit: Peter Riesett
The full moon is seen as it rises near the Lincoln Memorial, Saturday, March 19, 2011, in Washington. The full moon tonight is called a "Super Perigee Moon" since it is at it's closest to Earth in 2011. The last full moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

moon from Tim Burgess on Vimeo.

Supermoon through the trees. Credit: Adam Schaefer
‘I took a few shots of the moon during last week and collected three of them to the same picture adding color lines to help the viewer to compare the size of the moon when it is nearing to its perigree status. All the shots have been taken in Laukaa, Central Finland with Sony Alpha700 dslr -camera equipped with 300mm minolta telephoto lens and 2x tele converter, hand held, manual focus. Unfortunately, the night 19.3.2011 was here cloudy, so I couldn't take photos then.’ Credit: Jukka Seppala, Teacher, nature photographer, Vihtavuori, Central Finland
Full Moon over Florida, sent in by cmurray6.
'I see the Supermoon a rising, I see trouble on the way ....' taken with an iPhone and a 3.5-inch scope: Credit: Bill Dillon
The Moon over the San Francisco, CA Bay Area. Credit: Diane Garber
The Moon and an old coal fired power station in Fremantle, Western Australia. Credit: Donna Oliver Rockingham, Western Australia

This gorgeous shot, was sent in by Donna Oliver from western Australia, take a bit of creative license. She says: “The goal was not to shoot the moon as such but to take advantage of the additional light. Obviously on a long exposure, the moon would not look this good, so I shot the moon, then added it. You can see star movement if you look carefully. I made the moon extra large as my interpretation of the Super Moon.”

'The Moon rising behind a couple of palm trees with cows grazing in the foreground. As you can see in the image, the bottom half of the moon has a different tint due to the earths atmosphere.' Credit: Tom Connor, Parrish, FL
SuperMoon taken from Alpha Ridge, March 19, 2011. Credit: James Willinghan
Moon over New Orleans. Credit: Peter Jansen
Moon over Cape Town, South Africa. Equipment: Canon 400D, Sigma 170-500 lens 'The Moon was definitely at its best. I did not try any new tricks as I wanted to compare the "supermoon" with my previous attempts. Phocussing was definitely much easier. My exposure was just right to show up the ejecta rays of the impact craters, Tycho and Copernicus as well.' Credit: Carol Botha
The Moon over Gulf Islands National Seashore near Navarre Beach, Florida. Credit: Mindi Meeks. Click the image to see more in a series taken by Mindi.
A 'side by side' comparison of 4 different shots taken over the period of 30 hours before 'SuperMoon'. It shows the progression of Moon in it's orbit until the closest point. Credit: Ramiz Qureshi, from Karachi, Pakistan.
This one is pretty creative: Saturdays "Supermoon" compared to the size of an apogee moon (2008). The 'big one' was taken yesterday (March 19, 2011). It is compared to the full moon fotographed at 20.4.2008. The same camera and optics was used (Canon EOS 40 D and Canon 100-400L IS @400mm). In 2008 moon distance was 406,000km, Saturday only 357,000km. Credit: Hans Schremmer Niederkrüchten Germany
The Moon over Teneriffa, Canary Islands. Camera: Atik 314 E, Astrotrac and 70/420 tube. Credit: Vesa K.
'I took this in my garden this evening about 9pm using my Tokina 500mm mirror lens. More detail than I was expecting to be honest,' said photographer Dave Green. Click the image to see his Flickr page.
'Supermoon was scared to shows its face to me.' Credit: Euan McIntosh
Full moon over Bassett, Virginia, 03/19/2011. Credit: Essie Hollandswort
Image of the Full Moon at perigee, taken from Tabuk, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, on March 19th., 2011 at 20.05UT using a Canon 30D camera set at 1/800sec and 1000ASA. The camera was attached to an 80mm refractor of 500mm focal length and a x3 teleconverter giving an effective focal length of 1,500mm. Credit: Colin Henshaw.
The full Moon over England. Credit: Jerry T Krzyzanowski. Click the image to see his gallery.
This Super Moon image was taken in Pointe-Claire,Canada. The Super Moon is right behind Mercier bridge, one of the key bridge that ties the Montreal island to the south shore. Credit: Jean-Guy Corbeil, Beaconsfield, Québec
Full Moon over Lake Ontario, beside Hamilton, Ontario (Canada). Credit: Nona Clark

Check out these two from Tavi Greiner on her blog, A Sky Full of Stars: In this one, the Moon rises over a boat on the Shallotte River, just a few hundred yards from the Atlantic Ocean.

And in this one, the Moon appears captured by the rigging, and even almost appears to have lit the ropes on fire.

The Supermoon Illusion


You’ve probably all seen it before, a huge Full Moon sitting on the horizon and you wonder why it looks much bigger than at other times? It isn’t, really; it’s an illusion.

And now, if you have heard about the close approach of the moon, or so called “Supermoon” on March 19th and are concerned about the disasters and mayem it may cause, there is no need to worry. And surely, when this so-called “Supermoon” occurs on March 19th — at its closest approach to Earth in two decades — people will indeed report that the Moon looks much bigger than normal. But it won’t really be much bigger in the sky at all. It’s all an illusion, a trick of the eye.

The moon does have an effect on the Earth with its gravity affecting ocean tides and even land to a lesser extent, but the moon on the 19th won’t interact with our planet any differently than any other time it’s been at its closest (also known as perigee).

If anything we may get slightly stronger tides, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The Moon orbits the Earth in an elliptical orbit, meaning that it is not always the same distance from the Earth. The closest the Moon ever gets to Earth (called perigee) is 364,000km, and the furthest is ever gets (Apogee) is around 406,000km (these figures vary, and in fact this Full Moon on March 19, 2011 will see a slightly closer approach of 357,000km).

So the percentage difference in distance between the average perigee and the average apogee is ~10%. That is, if the Full Moon occurs at perigee it can be up to 10% closer (and therefore larger) than if it occurred at apogee.

This is quite a significant difference, and so it is worth pointing out that the Moon does appear to be different sizes at different times throughout the year.

Moon at Perigee and Apogee Credit NASA

But that’s NOT what causes the Moon to look huge on the horizon. Such a measly 10% difference in size cannot account for the fact that people describe the Moon as “huge” when they see it low on the horizon.

What’s really causing the Moon to look huge on such occasions is the circuitry in your brain. It’s an optical illusion, so well known that it has its own name: the Moon Illusion.

If you measure the angular size of the Full Moon in the sky it varies between 36 arc minutes (0.6 degrees) at perigee, and 30 arc minutes (0.5 degrees) at apogee, but this difference will occur within a number of lunar orbits (months), not over the course of the night as the Moon rises. In fact if you measure the angular size of the Full Moon just after it rises, when it’s near the horizon, and then again hours later once it’s high in the sky, these two numbers are identical: it doesn’t change size at all.

So why does your brain think it has? There’s no clear consensus on this, but the two most reasonable explanations are as follows:

1. When the Moon is low on the horizon there are lots of objects (hills, houses, trees etc) against which you can compare its size. When it’s high in the sky it’s there in isolation. This might create something akin to the Ebbinghaus Illusion, where identically sized objects appear to be different sizes when placed in different surroundings.

Ebbinghaus Illusion – the two orange circles are exactly the same size

2. When seen against nearer foreground objects which we know to be far away from us, our brain thinks something like this: “wow, that Moon is even further than those trees, and they’re really far away. And despite how far away it is, it still looks pretty big. That must mean the Moon is huge!”.

These two factors combine to fool our brains into “seeing” a larger Moon when its near the horizon compared with when it’s overhead, even when our eyes – and our instruments – see it as exactly the same size.

Source: “Moon Illusion” on Dark Sky Diary Special thanks to Steve Owens