This may have been your first time ever hearing about it, because it hasn’t happened for nearly 69 years. This is one reason why it is being dubbed the “Supermoon”. What is special and unique about the moon is that it is the closest it will ever be too the earth for some time. This causes the moon to look larger than life and beautiful for photos.
This occurs during the lunar orbit, where a full moon reaches its perigee. And most predict that this will not happen again, until November 25, 2034. Noah Petro, a deputy scientist for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, sat down with space.com and explained what makes the supermoon so special.
“The main reason why the orbit of the moon is not a perfect circle, is that there are a lot of tidal, or gravitational forces that are pulling on the moon. You have all of these different gravitational forces pulling and pushing on the moon, which gives us opportunities to have these close passes”, said Petro. He noted how the orbit of the moon is impacted by the planets of the solar system, including the sun and the gravity of the earth.
This closeness causes the moon to look 30% larger in the area and approximately 14% larger than at apogee. It is also important to know that 70% of the Earth’s surface is made up of oceans. This generates tidal variations upon the earth, while also affecting the orbital pattern of the moon. Due to the supermoon, many expect to see higher tides. But, Petro says that this isn’t unusual when moons are close to the earth. “One of the interesting things about the moon is that it’s not only pulling on the earth’s’ oceans. It’s actually pulling on the earth’s crust”, said Petro.