Jumbo supermoon holds sky gazers spell-bound

Jumbo supermoon holds sky gazers spell-bound

Jumbo supermoon holds sky gazers spell-bound

oon's orbit is in it's closest position to earth in 18 years. (AP Photo)

The phenomenon was special as the moon came closest to the earth in 18 years, rendering it the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. The moon was around 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter as compared to other full moons during the year, Nehru Planetarium Director N Rathnasree said.

"The 'supermoon' is closest to the Earth in 18 years. It  is the biggest and brightest of 2011," Director of Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE) C B Devgun told PTI.

The moon was only 3,56,577 kms away from the Earth today, the closest while at the full moon phase in 18 years. Earlier, there were supermoons in 1955, 1974, 1992 and 2005.

Regular situations of full moons coinciding with the moon's closest point to Earth in fact happen after about every one year, one month and 18 days when it is about 3,63,104 km away  from the Earth, Devgun said.

"This is because the moon's orbit is an ellipse with one side 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other. In the language of astronomy, the two extremes are called 'apogee' (far away) and 'perigee' (nearby)," Devgun said.

A public skywatch with telescopes and a live show with full dome visuals was organised by the Nehru Planetarium this evening for sky gazers to have a better view and rationalise the Perigee Full Moon, Rathnasree said.

Hundreds of people turned up at the planetarium to see the earth's natural satellite, she said, adding it is totally safe to watch the moon with naked eyes. Dispelling reports that a correlation exists between the Moon and earthquakes, she said data for the last hundred years and more was studied and no correlation was found.

"It is meaningless to equate supermoon with quake or tsunami. No inferences should ever be drawn from looking at just two data points – any statistical correlation has to be checked over a number of data points, she said.

One should enjoy the sight and not be carried by adverse premonitions. Earthquakes and tsunami are earth's internal affairs, R C Kapoor, retired professor of Indian Institute of Astrophysics told PTI. The Moon can raise just a little higher tide, nothing else, he added.

The term 'Supermoon' was first coined by Astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979. According to him, it is a situation when  the moon is slightly closer to the Earth in its orbit than  average, which is 90 per cent or more of its closest orbit, and  the moon is a full or new moon.

At the closest, our natural satellite moon lies roughly  3,56,630 kms from the Earth compared to its average distance of  3,84,800 km from the planet. The full moon will be at its best at around 3:30 AM, Kapoor said.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox