Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Mankind has had a fascination with astrology and star/sky gazing for thousands of years. How can you not? Don’t you remember lying in the grass in the backyard or the schoolyard or whatever-yard and staring at the moon and the stars? Or the aurora borealis? Or picking out shapes from the clouds passing over? The skies are fascinating so it was kind of neat when we were treated to the Supermoon that lit up the sky over the last full moon cycle on Sunday the 10th of August.
            There are Harvest moons and Black moons, Blue moons and New moons and, apparently, there are also Supermoons. The name Supermoon was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979 and I may have heard of the term before but I can’t really recall…but then again, half of the time I can’t remember why I went down to the basement.
            The moon on Sunday was the biggest and brightest of the year as it was 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than a regular full moon. This Supermoon was also the largest of the three consecutive celestial beauties of the summer. The first one was on 12th of July and the next one will be on September 9th. But this was the biggest and the brightest and I’m sure glad it wasn’t cloudy or I’d have missed it.
            During a Supermoon, the moon is closer to the Earth than it is during a regular full moon because the moon’s orbit around the Earth is elliptical, so that it’s closer to the Earth on one side of the orbit than the other. On average, the moon is 384,000 kilometers away at the closest point, its perigee, and is around 406,000 kilometers away at its furthest point, or apogee.
            Supermoons are moons that take place on the same day as the perigee, and on average, they happen about once every 13 ½ months but on Sunday, the moon turned full during the same hour as the perigee making it an extra-super moon. The August 10th Supermoon was the closest of the year and the moon was only 356,896 kilometers away making it bigger and brighter.
             My fixation with the celestial bodies and the moon may be linked to growing up in the 1960’s when the Americans and the USSR were in a Space Race. American President John F. Kennedy set a national goal of "landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth" by the end of the 1960s, which he proposed in a May 25, 1961, address to the American Congress. A goal that the Americans achieved with NASA’s Apollo 11landing on the moon on July 20th, 1969.
Something unachievable was achieved and as Astronaut and the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, so aptly said, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”


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