The Untold Truth Of The Supermoon

Let's start with the disappointing news up front: a "supermoon" is not, and never has been, a cow-based Clark Kent parody. It's not what happens when the Avengers pull down their pants. It's just a dumb old confluence of cosmic events resulting in a rare and breathtaking moment of almost supernatural beauty. We know. We were disappointed too.

The word "supermoon," according to NASA, was first coined in the year 1979 by one Richard Nolle. Britannica notes that Nolle, an astrologer, claimed at the time that supermoons were portents of oncoming calamities such as earthquakes and severe weather patterns. Weirdly, that part never panned out, but the name stuck.

And just what does the term refer to? A supermoon occurs when the moon is both full and within 10% of its perigee, or the closest point in its orbit to the Earth. The moon orbits in an ellipse, careening around our planet not in a God-fearing circle like a respectable stellar body, but more like a teenager doing doughnuts in an Arby's parking lot after watching Tokyo Drift for the first time. The closer it gets, the brighter and larger it appears.

The full moonty

According to Earth Sky, in 2020, the moon will be at its furthest point from Earth when it hits 252,707 miles away from us, or just shy of 253 times the distance that the Proclaimers are willing to walk to fall down at your door. At its closest, it will be 221,772 miles away. Our three supermoons for the year came on March 9th, April 7th-8th, and May 7th.

But that's not all: there are also "new moon supermoons," when the moon again reaches its closest point to Earth, this time during its new moon phase. And that is about as many times as a person can reasonably be expected to mention the word "moon" in one sentence.

Three new moon supermoons are expected towards the end of the year on September 17ths, October 16th, and November 15th. And for anyone feeling contradictory, we'll also have one "micromoon," when the moon is full and at its furthest point from Earth, on October 31st. Moon.