The term “supermoon” was coined by the astrologer Richard Nolle over 30 years ago but is only now coming into popular usage. Nolle defined a “supermoon” as a new or full moon which occurs when the moon is within 90% of its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit. The first Supermoon of 2013 will be on the night of May 24-25. The moon will reach “full” at 12:25 am EDT on May 25.
On average, there are from 4 to 6 “supermoons” a year. In 2013, there will also be a supermoon on June 23 and July 22, making for three in a row!
The May 25th full moon is the third full moon following the Spring equinox. In North America other names given to this full moon include Flower Moon, Rose Moon or Strawberry Moon. If you face southeast just after sunset, you will also see a bright star near the horizon and almost directly below the nearly full moon -- Antares, the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion.
If you have a telescope and some patience, the moon will also undergo an extremely minor penumbral lunar eclipse. With a penumbral eclipse magnitude of 0.0158, just 0.5 arc-minutes of the moon’s southern limb will pass into Earth’s pale penumbral shadow. It will be such a shallow eclipse that it will be mainly of academic interest and very difficult to detect. The maximum eclipse will occur at about 12:08 am on May 25.
If you don’t care to stay up until midnight to see the precisely full moon or the penumbral eclipse, try a nice field facing west at sunset to see Venus, Jupiter and Mercury in a conjunction (visible through about May 29).
Happy star gazing!
For more information check out EarthSky.org
Article by Jerry Samford,Environmental Compliance Specialist, Troutman Sanders
Photo: NASA/Bill Ingalls