Su­per­moon is the big­gest in 68 years

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By CHENG YINGQI chengy­ingqi@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The big­gest and bright­est su­per­moon since 1948 ap­peared on Mon­day night, pro­vid­ing a spec­tac­u­lar op­por­tu­nity for ob­servers and pho­tog­ra­phers.

As the moon or­bits Earth in an oval pat­tern, it ap­pears to be larger than usual each time it ap­proaches a point close to Earth. This year, there will be a to­tal of six su­per­moons, in­clud­ing in Oc­to­ber, Novem­ber and De­cem­ber.

Ac­cord­ing to NASA’s web­site, a full moon won’t come this close again un­til Nov 25, 2034.

The moon ar­rived at its clos­est point on Mon­day at 7:21 pm and be­came full at 9:52 pm, ap­pear­ing 14 to 15 per­cent larger and 20 to 30 per­cent brighter than usual, at­tract­ing am­a­teur astronomers and pho­tog­ra­phers to ob­serve the phe­nom­e­non.

Ex­perts noted that su­per­moons oc­cur fre­quently.

“The moon or­bits around Earth 13 times a year, so tech­ni­cally we can have 13 su­per­moons a year,” said Chen Xuelei, a re­searcher at the Na­tional As­tro­nom­i­cal Ob­ser­va­to­ries of the Chi­nese Acad­emy of Sciences.

The moon’s near­est point to Earth can range from 350,000 to 370,000 kilo­me­ters due to or­bital vari­a­tion.

Wang Jun­jie, an­other re­searcher at the Na­tional As­tro­nom­i­cal Ob­ser­va­to­ries, said the ap­par­ent change of the moon’s size and bright­ness might be hard to ob­serve with the naked eye. How­ever, he added that “full moons oc­cur­ring on the lu­nar perigee (the clos­est point to Earth) seem ex­tra big and bright”.

LIU JINHAI/ XIN­HUA

The su­per­moon, as seen over Bei­jing on Mon­day night, in­spired am­a­teur astronomers and pho­tog­ra­phers across China.

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