NASA explains the ‘supermoon’ of May 5

By Eric W. Dolan
Saturday, May 5, 2012 20:49 EDT
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Moon NASA screenshot
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In a video uploaded to YouTube in March, NASA explained the “supermoon” phenomenon that occurred the night of May 5.

“The scientific term for the phenomenon is perigee moon,” the video explained. “Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon’s orbit. The Moon follows an elliptical path around Earth with one side — perigee — about 50,000 kilometers closer than the other — apogee.  Full Moons that occur on the perigee side of the Moon’s orbit seem extra big and bright.”

The moon appeared about 14 percent larger than normal and about 30 percent brighter. However, many people were probably unable to notice much of a difference. The moon was within 221,802 miles of Earth.

“The best time to look is when the Moon is near the horizon,” the video suggested. “For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, low-hanging Moons look unnaturally large when they beam through trees, buildings and other foreground objects.”

Watch video, uploaded to YouTube on March 9, 2012, below:

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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