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Today – April 26, 2017 – is the first supermoon this year, but there is no Full Moon tonight. Can a New Moon be a supermoon? Yes.

Rather than a full supermoon, this is a new supermoon. It will happen again May 25 (the most “super of the year) and June 24.

As I have said before, a supermoon isn’t an astronomical term but a popular term to mark when the Moon is nearest to the Earth (perigee).

By a commonly accepted definition, to be a supermoon it has to come within 225,027 miles (362,146 km) of Earth. and that happens every few months. Besides the three Super New Moons, there will also be s Super Full Moon in December. After that, the following full moons on January 2 and 31, 2018, count as supermoons, too. Additionally, some will call the full moon on January 31, 2018 a Blue Moon.

Here is the caveat for this celestial event: Since you can’t really see a New Moon, you can’t see a  super one either. The Moon will be in the glare of the sun all day long and will rise and set with the Sun.

You will see the Moon’s impact with higher-than-usual tides since all New and Full Moons create bigger tides and perigee makes them even higher. We sometimes hear them referred to as “spring tides.”

Higher spring tides are one way to “see” the New Supermoon. – Photo: Manasquan Inlet, New Jersey (Wikimedia)

As much as we associate the Moon with night, you certainly have seen it during the daytime.

Yesterday, the Moon was in a waning gibbous phase and I saw it in the light of morning. During this phase, it rises in the east later than it did the night before and it will rise later and later each evening. That means you can catch the daytime moon over your western horizon after sunrise now.

The daytime moon is a nice reminder that or favorite natural satellite is up there much of the time. It is pretty pale against the blue sky, so not as noticeable as at night. Our Moon is there during the day half the time since it orbits the entire Earth once a month. It is difficult to see the crescent moon in the daytime because it is near the sun in the sky.

We always notice the Full Moon that stays out all night long, rising at sunset and setting at sunrise. Following Full Moons (the last one was Tuesday) the waning gibbous moon is rising later each night and setting in the west later each day after sunrise.

Our Moon is always up there and one half is always illuminated by sunlight and the nighttime half is in its own shadow, even though we don’t always see that.

I post a lot about the Moon and I’m hardly alone in being fascinated by it. You may have an astronomical interest in it, or maybe a more Romantic interest. Either way, you probably only think of the view of the Moon from Earth and not the other way.

Right now we are in the last quarter phase when we see half the moon’s day side, and half its night side. I recently discovered that the shadow line dividing day from night is called the lunar terminator.

Here’s another way to view the moon, if only theoretically. If you were on the moon now while it is in its last quarter phase, as it is today, and you were looking back at Earth, you’d see the Earth at its first quarter phase.

Perhaps some day, a lunar-living blogger will post regularly about the phases of the Earth.

 

firts-quarter-earth

As seen from the moon, the terminator on the first quarter Earth depicts sunrise, as the first quarter Earth waxes toward its full phase.

 

supermoon

Comparison of a full moon and a “supermoon” Image: Stefano Sciarpetti

I’ll write more about the full moon of November 14, 2016 tomorrow, but this month’s full moon is the biggest, closest and brightest supermoon of the year. It’s also the closest supermoon since January 26, 1948. It won’t come this close to Earth again until November 25, 2034, so this might be the big one for your lifetime. That’s probably true for me, though I’m hoping to see that next one too!

The Moon will officially look big and full on November 14 at 1352 UTC (9:52 a.m. AST, 8:52 a.m. EST, 7:52 a.m. CST, 6:52 a.m. MST, 5:52 a.m. PST). But in the Americas, the moon is closer to full on the night of November 13.

This is our second of three supermoons this fall. That unscientific but popular name for the “perigee moon” refers to when the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its orbit. If and when a perigee moon coincides with the full moon, the extra-large, brightly-lit moon is known as a supermoon.

It’s worth looking up on November 13 and 14. The Moon will rise in the east around sunset and be highest in the sky around midnight.

new-moon-nasa

It was dark tonight on my walk in the woods. The days are getting shorter, but tonight is a New Moon which is sometimes called a Black Moon. That’s a popular term, not a scientific one, but the lack of a visible Moon tonight does make it a dark night.

A New Moon is the first phase of the Moon, occurring when the Moon and the Sun have the same elliptical longitude.

Halloween is a month away and the New Moon will occur in October 2016 the night before Halloween. That makes us think of the Black Moon being associated with Wicca and black magic.

Wikipedia says that a Black Moon can be a reference to any one of four astronomical events:
1. the second occurrence of a new moon in a calendar month
2. the third new moon in a season that has four of them
3. the absence of a full moon in a calendar month (which happens sometimes in February when January and March each have a second full moon)
4. the absence of a new moon in a calendar month which can only occur in February.

For some, any New Moon is a “black moon” because of the darker night.

Tonight’s Black Moon officially occurred at 8:11 p.m. ET, but for people in the Eastern Hemisphere, it will already be after midnight on Oct. 1 when it occurs. That means that on the other side of the globe it won’t technically be a “black moon” there.

Holidays guided by the lunar calendar are often made to coincide with things like the appearance of a crescent moon (which happens a few days from now). This will usher in the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, beginning Sunday evening Oct. 2, and the Islamic New Year, Muharram, on Monday, Oct. 3.

quarter-moon

Moon phases are measured in quarters. This month’s New Moon is on July 4 (nice darkness for fireworks) and the First Quarter is July 11, followed by the Full Moon on July 19 and the Third Quarter on July 26. That may seem a bit illogical in its order, and the names may seem off too because a quarter moon appears to us as a “half moon.”

The moon reaches its half-illuminated last quarter phase at the same instant worldwide, it occurs at different times by the clock, depending on one’s time zone.  A last quarter moon rises in the middle of the night and shines in the morning sky.

Although half-lit, it’s called a last quarter or third quarter moon because the moon is three-quarters of the way in its journey from new moon to new moon.

first-quarter-earth-may-29-2016

First Quarter Earth as it would be seen from space

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