PANAJI: While most people might find the cosmos difficult to understand, a few celestial events, such as the super moon, holds a far broader interest.
On November 14, at precisely 7.22pm, the moon was the closest to the Earth. A hundred and fifty people made a beeline for the Junta House terrace here at space party organized by the Association of Friends of Astronomy (AFA).
“The universe is beautiful and we should enjoy events like the super moon without falling prey to superstitions and false beliefs,” said Satish Nayak, president of the AFA making a pitch for rationale and scientific thinking.
The Moon’s monthly orbit around Earth is slightly elliptical (egg-shaped) so that sometimes the moon is closer to the Earth and other times, farther away. When it is the closest to the Earth, it shines 30% more moonlight onto the planet and appears 16% larger.
A super moon refers to a full moon which coincides with its closest point to the Earth during its monthly orbit around our planet. Even at this point, the moon is 3,61,524 km away from the Earth. Similarly, it was only a few weeks ago, on October 31, that the moon was the farthest from the Earth and it was called a micro moon. Such are the idiosyncrasies of spatial bodies. There won’t been another super moon till 2034.
Dunstan Dias, a self-taught astronomy and astrophotography enthusiast from Margao, said, “Tonight’s super moon was the closest one for many years to come. But you might not have noticed it if you just stared at it in isolation. The way one could have seen the increase in size from a normal moon would be by looking at the super moon in contrast to something like a hill, or building. It looks much bigger then. ”
The term super moon was coined thirty years ago by Richard Nolle, an astrologer, who also predicted tsunamis, cyclones and other related atmospheric disturbances. The term became popular only when the media first used it to explain this phenomenon in 2011. Astronomers actually prefer to use the term ‘perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system’ to describe the super moon.
Scientists from across the world, have been studying the moon and will be watching the moon closely over the next few days. These studies help them understand the planet’s history, the goings-on on other planets and objects within our solar system.
The varying phases of the moon, also affect the Earth’s oceans. The super moon pulls harder on the seas than ordinary full moons. Ramesh Kumar, chief scientist, physical oceanography, who was at the Junta House terrace said, “There won’t be much of a difference in water levels; only about a three to five centimetre increase due to the super moon. On another note, we are lucky that in Goa the air is relatively cleaner and we can view the moon clearer.”
Super moons are not such a rare phenomena. According to a Reuters report, one in about every 14 full moons is a super moon. Incidentally, if one went by the definition of a super moon, the year 2016 will have a total of six super moons, the new moons during March, April and May, and the full moons of October, November and December. But the largest, closest and the brightest moon was tonight on November 14.
Source: Times of India