By Emily Chung
Want to be a scientist? Here’s your chance. Accept each mission to observe and explore cool science in the world around you. Report back on your experiences and observations—we’d love to hear about them.
Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to take a photo of the last supermoon of 2014.
That’s the full moon that rises on the night of Monday, Sept. 8. It’s also this year’s Harvest Moon, the full moon closest to the first day of fall or the fall equinox.
What makes September’s full moon so super compared to the next few full moons? Well, for one thing, it’s bigger.
Huh? Does that mean the Moon put on some extra weight over the summer and plans to go on a diet this fall?
Of course not—you’re right. It’s not actually bigger. It just looks bigger because it’s closer to us.
The Moon orbits or travels around the Earth in a path that’s almost circular, but a little bit lopsided. The means it’s nearer to us on one side of its path than the other. The part of the orbit closest to the Earth is called the perigee and it’s about 40,000 kilometres to Earth than the furthest point, the apogee (on average, it’s about 380,000 kilometres away).
A supermoon is a full moon that takes place within 24 hours of the perigee. It’s actually more scientific to call it a “perigee full moon.” This month, the Moon becomes full 22 hours after the perigee. It’s the third supermoon in a row this year, but the next perigee full moon isn’t until August 2015.
The moon looks biggest when it’s close to the horizon (due to an optical illusion). So here’s how to get the best supermoon photos: Find a place with a view of the horizon and watch for the moon in the east around sunset.
Send us your photos at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t wait to see them!
Emily Chung is a journalist in Toronto who loves exploring. She has a Ph.D. in chemistry.