Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2014 September 8
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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Super Moon vs. Micro Moon
Image Credit & Copyright: Catalin Paduraru

Explanation: What is so super about tomorrow's supermoon? Tomorrow, a full moon will occur that appears slightly larger and brighter than usual. The reason is that the Moon's fully illuminated phase occurs within a short time from perigee - when the Moon is its closest to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. Although the precise conditions that define a supermoon vary, given one definition, tomorrow's will be the third supermoon of the year -- and the third consecutive month that a supermoon occurs. One reason supermoons are popular is because they are so easy to see -- just go outside and sunset and watch an impressive full moon rise! Since perigee actually occurs today, tonight's sunset moonrise should also be impressive. Pictured above, a supermoon from 2012 is compared to a micromoon -- when a full Moon occurs near the furthest part of the Moon's orbit -- so that it appears smaller and dimmer than usual. Given many definitions, at least one supermoon occurs each year, with the next being 2015 August 30.

Tomorrow's picture: galaxy topping

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