Though journalists can’t resist hyping lunar largeness, Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks the celestial event known as the super moon has been severely overblown.
In video uploaded to YouTube on Saturday night, Star Talk Radio co-host Chuck Nice asked the astrophysicist why there was a “super moon” if the moon was slowly distancing itself from Earth.
“There is something called a super moon,” Tyson responded. “I don’t know who first called it a super moon. I don’t know, but if you have a 16 inch pizza, would you call that a super pizza compared with a 15 inch pizza?”
Astrologer Richard Nolle is the one responsible for coining the term “super moon” to describe the coincidence of a full moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth. Due to the elliptical orbit of the Moon, its distance from Earth varies from about 222,000 to 252,000 miles.
“The Moon’s orbit around the Earth is not a perfect circle,” Tyson explained. “Sometimes it’s closer, sometimes it’s farther away. Every month, there is a moment when it is closest. Occasionally, that moment when it is closest coincidences with a full moon. People are calling that a super moon, but there’s super half moons. Every month one of those phases is the closest. I don’t hear people saying like ‘super crescent, super half moon.’”
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube, below: