The term “supermoon” has been thrown about a lot in the past few years—but what does it really mean?
A supermoon is technically called a perigee-syzgy moon (try THAT one in your next spelling bee), which refers to the distance between the moon and the earth. At a perigee moon, la luna is at its closest point to the earth, a distance that can cause it to appear much larger and brighter. Or, as the modern moon might say, “supersize me!”
In a nutshell: Perigee means that the the moon is orbiting at its closest distance to the Earth. Syzgy means that the Earth, moon and Sun and aligned—basically, this is what happens at every new or full moon.
Supermoons also have a cute little opposite (mini-moons?)—called apogee-syzgy moons—when the moon is at its farthest distance from the Earth and appears small. Awwww.
A supermoon occurs at either a new moon or a full moon and it’s not really uncommon: In 2016, there are six supermoons. We believe the proximity of the moon can dial up the energy people receive—and if nothing else, a full supermoon can make quite a lovely sight (and social media buzz).
So where does the supermoon idea originate? Astrologer Richard Nolle cleverly created the term “supermoon” back in 1979—the year after the modern Superman movie debuted in 1978, in fact. So despite their recent hype in horoscopes, supermoons are not actually a new phenomenon. Some stargazers have observed that these larger-appearing lunations have coincided with earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. However, the tides are pulled the strongest by any new or full moon, so it’s hard to say if the super-charged beams are to blame.
Much like the feminine powers it represents, the mystical moon has inspired both awe and fear for eons—especially during eclipse season. So please—stay aware…but don’t get paranoid, either!
Image via Tumblr