Starwatch Blog for the week of Monday, March 9, 2020
2020’s first Super Moon occurs on Monday, March 9, 2020. This is the first of 3 Super Moons this year. Super Moons appear bigger and brighter. We call this moon the Super Worm Moon, as it represents the worms emerging as we approach the start of Spring.
To classify as a Super Moon, the moon has to be full and near a close approach to Earth. We define close as less than 360,000 kilometers.
Recall the Moon orbits the Earth in an elliptical path. Therefore, the distance of the Moon to the Earth varies. We call the closest approach the perigee, and the farthest approach the apogee.
The best time to view the Super Worm Moon is near moonset and moonrise. Monday around 9 p.m. is a great time to catch the Super Worm Moon in the east sky and Tuesday around 7 a.m. in the west sky.
We say the best time is near moon set and moon rise as it is near the horizon. Here is where we perceive the moon to be larger than it looks higher in the sky. But this is actually not true. This is called the moon illusion.
At first glance, which yellow line appears larger?
You probably thought the top line, but they are actually the same size!
There are many theories to the moon illusion, but scientist do not know the actual reason our brains miscalculate the size of the moon at the horizon. But, the illusion still makes for a great view of the Super Worm Moon at moon rise and moon set!