NEW DELHI: An auroral and unusually big ‘supermoon’ was seen lighting up the sky on Saturday, offering a visual treat to an enthusiastic audience of curious sky-gazers.
The phenomenon was special, as the moon came closest to the earth in 18 years, becoming the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. The moon was around 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than the other full moons, Nehru Planetarium Director N. Rathnasree said.
“The ‘supermoon’ is the biggest and brightest of 2011,” C.B. Devgun, director of the Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE), told PTI.
The moon was only 3,56,577 km away. The phenomenon occurred in 1955, 1974, 1992 and 2005.
Full moons coinciding with the moon’s closest point to the earth in fact happen after every one year, one month and 18 days when it is about 3,63,104 km from the earth, Mr. Devgun said. “This is because the moon’s orbit is an ellipse, with one side 50,000 km closer to the earth than the other. In astronomy, the two extremes are called ‘apogee’ [far away] and ‘perigee’ [nearby].”