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Supermoon mania! Or, the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system
June 24, 2013 2:43 PM   Subscribe

Did you see? On June 23, the full Moon was the biggest and brightest of the year, so it's called the Supermoon! While this is technically true, Phil Plait points out you'd never notice the difference in size or brightness by eye. Still, it meant more people were outside, staring up at the sky, and taking pictures of the moon. See more on The Big Picture, and a ton of user submissions in a HuffPo slideshow (deslided *)
posted by filthy light thief (34 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's no moon....
posted by RonButNotStupid at 2:55 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't Get Neil deGrasse Tyson Started on the "Super Moon"
posted by lampshade at 3:00 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


"Supermoon" is a excuse for people to take photos of the moon taken with a superzoom lens.
posted by mulligan at 3:12 PM on June 24, 2013


Last year, a friend's typo forever renamed this phenomenon "supermoom."


SUPERMOOM
posted by louche mustachio at 3:20 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


M-O-O-M, that spells moon.
posted by Atom Eyes at 3:23 PM on June 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


Can we just all take a moment to savour the word "syzygy"?
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:24 PM on June 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


WE LIKE THE MOON
posted by louche mustachio at 3:24 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


It was totes noticeably brighter last night and I don't care what any MOOMSCIENTISTS say.
posted by elizardbits at 3:26 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think that's "Supermom." As in "Supermooooooom! You're making me look bad in front for my Super Friends!"
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:32 PM on June 24, 2013


Yeah, I had a squizz the other day and it was blindingly bright. I had to look away.
posted by pompomtom at 4:10 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


The worst problem is the Superlunatics.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:49 PM on June 24, 2013


Here in San Francisco I did notice last night that the fog was slightly brighter than usual.
posted by Blue Meanie at 4:51 PM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, we had a gorgeous view of the overcast sky. Stealth Moonites!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:21 PM on June 24, 2013


I don’t want to disagree with Scientist guys, but I know about this because I said to my wife "wow, the moon seems really big and bright and has the last few days", to which she replied "I think it might be a Super Moon". Later we saw a news story confirming this. Apparently this was all just coincidence.
posted by bongo_x at 5:31 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I went for a walk after work to our little pedestrian bridge. It stretches from a tiny park, over the highway and some old railroad tracks, to a path near the river and looks kind of like a snake skeleton and is very beautiful. It is where I always go for my moom worship. It was bright and clear the way the sky can be after storms. The moom was heavy and not-quite-round, like it was still waxing gibbous. I wanted to sing to it like a little creature.

Then some dude jogged by and hocked a loogie off the bridge, busting up my reverie entirely.
posted by louche mustachio at 5:33 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just realized that of all the Supermoon/Superman jokes I've seen in the last week, not ONE of them comments about Supermoon breaking Mars' neck...
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:54 PM on June 24, 2013


Coincidentally, it was the last day of Circus Flora's show "A Trip To The Moon" in St. Louis.

I took a picture of the nearly five foot wide paper mache moon above the popcorn stand, on the assumption that it was approximately six inches larger than it would be at apogee.
posted by Foosnark at 6:22 PM on June 24, 2013


I don’t want to disagree with Scientist guys, but I know about this because I said to my wife "wow, the moon seems really big and bright and has the last few days", to which she replied "I think it might be a Super Moon". Later we saw a news story confirming this. Apparently this was all just coincidence.

You had just both read/heard about it in the news without consciously realizing it.

(I would also quibble with the assertion I have seen repeated by several astronomers that no one would ever notice a ~7% difference in size of one of the most familiar sights there is.)
posted by junco at 6:28 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Our electric department scheduled a city-wide power outage that fell on Super Moon. It was gorgeous to walk around a downtown lit only by the moon.
posted by chinesefood at 6:39 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I missed the supermoom, but last night I had the best view of Saturn since I moved back to PA. Florida has its issues, but even with the humidity and the light pollution and Rick Scott, I could pretty much always count on a tack-sharp view of Saturn.

Anyway, the supermoon is nice and all, but the views through a scope are better when it's at partial phase, plus you get a better look at the faint fuzzies after it sets (or before it rises).
posted by dirigibleman at 7:23 PM on June 24, 2013


It could just coincidentally have been the first clear night sky here in weeks, but I totally noticed that the moon was brighter and larger and prettier without knowing that it was super moon day.
posted by lbebber at 7:58 PM on June 24, 2013


I think nearly caused a car accident with my MAN HAS NEVER BEEN TO MOOM rant induced gigglefit
posted by The Whelk at 8:09 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was overcast the last couple of days, and I hate missing a full moon in summer, esp. one with superpowers.
posted by theora55 at 8:33 PM on June 24, 2013


Aw come on. People went outside last night and looked at the sky armed with knowledge that the moon's orbit wasn't perfectly round, that there were things called syzygy and apogee and maybe MAYBE some folkes talked about science at the water cooler. Super Moon or Super Stupid Hype Moon, it got people talking about something that we usually just look at and say "meh". People looked at the moon last night and thought about it.

I was kind of bummed out that Neil deGrasse Tyson pooh-poohed it and sent out a "you're all a bunch of fools for getting excited" message. People are talking about the sky, dude. They could be talking about Kim Kardashian.
posted by Elly Vortex at 9:19 PM on June 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yeah, but it's kind of a dodge, Elly Vortex, and my man Neil don't play that way. Plus, it's sort of depressing that the Moon is getting all this media attention and meteor showers and conjunctions aren't, which is probably because people can't see them at all anymore -- the Moon is the only object in the sky they can see.
posted by dhartung at 12:16 AM on June 25, 2013


Syzygy. It's just fun to say.
posted by Lizard at 2:20 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


as is moom.
posted by louche mustachio at 3:14 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


People are talking about the sky, dude.

Actually and sadly I think a lot of people talking about the Supermoon really are just talking about something they heard about on the tv, which really doesn't make it much different from the Kardashians after all.

Put me in the group who saw the moon the night before full and thought it was very pretty (there were shredded scattered clouds passing around it) but didn't notice it was particularly bright or large -- and I'm always incredibly conscious of the moon, having been an astronomy buff since I was a small child. To me the Supermoon hype is up there with the pandering and often quite lame attempts to "sell" science to the public that I often find quite embarrassing when I hear them on public radio or the TV.
posted by aught at 5:37 AM on June 25, 2013


To me the Supermoon hype is up there with the pandering and often quite lame attempts to "sell" science to the public that I often find quite embarrassing when I hear them on public radio or the TV.

Aw come on. Why is it pandering? If that's pandering, then so are all the night-sky exhibits at museums and kids' models of the solar system.

The moon is cool, it's romantic, it's a little eerie if you stare at it on a quiet night. Sometimes it's weird colors. People have walked on it. It's inspired many children's books, stories, and songs. So, Supermoon captured people's attention, much like the more dramatic eclipses do.

Having a good telescope, being in a place without a lot of of light pollution, and being willing to wait all night (and able to stay awake) to see a few meteors is not the norm for most people. That doesn't mean they are not allowed to care about astronomy at all.
posted by emjaybee at 7:03 AM on June 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aw come on. Why is it pandering?

Well, to me it's pandering because some media pop-science folks seems to think that without overblown hype and hyperbole there's simply no way anyone would ever care about something connected to the sciences. This approach seems to grant the original premise, "Science is total dorkitude, yeah okay, but if we make it an event, even the cool kids might pay attention for a few seconds." I find that offensive on some level.

The moon is wonderful all the time -- I mean, really look at it -- it's another small planet orbiting close enough to our own that we can actually watch it go through phases and see amazing detail on its surface with the naked eye. We are insanely lucky to have a moon like this for more reasons than I care to go into in this comment. I'm a middle-aged layperson who's tried to keep up with astronomical news all my life and the moon blows my mind every time I look at it. Not just when some cable-TV hypester declares it's SOOPERMOOM WEEK THIS WEEK ONLY! DON'T MISS IT AND BE A LOSER! NEXT WEEK: MONSTER-SHARK AND MEGA-TORNADO WEEK -- YOU HAVE TO TUNE IN TO THAT TOO!

I guess I wish pop-scientists could figure out a way to instill an authentic, long-term appreciation for the natural world and the sky that doesn't rely on artificial enthusiasm. Oh yeah; that would probably require a level of public funding of real science education and promotion in public schools which would offend creationist fundies so never pass ye Congrefs. Oh wait -- maybe corporate America can fill the gap somehow!

My broader deep fear here is that many people are no longer able to appreciate *anything* without hype and hyperbole, and that would be deeply sad for more than astronomy.
posted by aught at 7:20 AM on June 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


We live a little ways out of town and walk around our property late every night. We usually notice how bright the moon is. We noticed it being especially bright. If you live in Los Angeles I can see how you think that no one could tell the difference. I’d still think you were being presumptuous and silly though.
posted by bongo_x at 9:24 AM on June 25, 2013


I stepped outside and the top half was visible over a very low cloud next to Chicago's skyline and said HOLY SHIT!
posted by mike_bling at 10:59 AM on June 26, 2013


Actually and sadly I think a lot of people talking about the Supermoon really are just talking about something they heard about on the tv, which really doesn't make it much different from the Kardashians after all.

Some people liked the moon before it was cool?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:58 PM on June 26, 2013


This Is The Only Supermoon Photo That You Need To See
posted by homunculus at 9:13 PM on June 27, 2013


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