The Super and Full Moons of 2020

Super Moon
   There is some interest in the concept of a ‘Super Moon’, a reference to the the date when our Moon is at its closest, or its minimum separation, relative to the Earth during any of its monthly orbits. This minimum distance varies each month because the Moon’s orbit is elliptical rather than circular. Minimum separation between the Earth and the Moon is known as perigee. Conversely at its greatest separation between the Earth and Moon is known as apogee. For solar orbiters, planets, comets, asteroids, etc., the equivalent to perigee is perihelion while we use aphelion for the greatest separation between the Earth and Moon. The root of the word, helion, comes from Helios, or the Sun.
   During 2020 there will be 12 perigee Moons, one each month, and there will be 13 full Moons meaning that we will have a blue Moon month in October.

   It would not be fair if the year’s super-mini wasn’t mentioned. So the new Moon of March 24th will be the furthest Moon from the Earth at a distance of 252,706 miles (406,692 km). And like with the Super Moon the date for apogee varies each month and it does not always coincide with any particular phase. This one in March with apogee and new phase is coincidental.

Full Moon
   It is not too unusual to hear someone making a connection between a ‘Super Moon’ and the full Moon, seeming to suggest that the ‘Super Moon’ is a full Moon. However this is not always the situation as the date for each perigee Moon, as well as the phase shape are not the same each lunar cycle, or month.

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   The full phase occurs when the Moon and the Sun are approximately 180o apart. When the full Moon rises is sunset, and when the Sun rises the full Moon (actually now a waning gibbous) sets. So you can count on always seeing a full Moon around sunset.

   Click here to see graphic images of the perigee Moons for 2020.

   Click here to see graphic images of the full Moons for 2020.


Click here to go to the Qué tal in the Current Skies web site for monthly observing information, or here to return to bobs-spaces.

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