A Super Event and a Super Moon

Posted: May 2, 2012 - 11:49 , by ROM

An animated gif of the lunar liberation

The libration of the Moon over a single lunar month. Image credit: Tom Ruen

For all the space junkies and aspiring astronauts, the ROM is holding its first ever Space Weekend on May 5 and 6…it’s going to be out of this world!

  • A variety of rare metorites will be on display, many that you can touch!
  • ROM experts will answer your questions about the formation of the solar system and asteroids
  • Witness a comet being made and impact craters being formed
  • The Royal Astronomical Society will share details about the Transit of Venus in June – a celestial event that will not occur again in our lifetimes!
  • And last, but certainly not least… you have a chance to stand over a real piece of the Moon!  Don’t forget to bring your camera, this is a photo-opp you don’t want to miss.

Meanwhile, in the skies above Toronto an equally exciting natural phenomenon will be occurring Saturday night: a supermoon. With a clear night, the moon will appear unusually large in the night sky.

A visual comparison of how the size of the moon changes at Pa

At perigee the Moon appears slightly larger since it approximately 50,000 km closer. Image Credit: NASA

Because the orbit of the Moon is not perfectly circular, it is slightly elliptical, at certain times of the year the Moon is slightly closer to the Earth. When the Moon is at its closest it is said to be in perigee and is approximately 362,600 kilometres away. At its furthest it is in apogee and is approximately 405,400 kilometres from Earth.

Even though the actual variations in distances are not that great the Moon will, at these times, appear slightly bigger and brighter or smaller and more dim. What makes this particular Moon ‘super’ is that it will be a full moon at perigee (its closest approach). The full Moon will be in apogee (its furthest distance) on November 28th of this year.