You’ve heard of the Supermoon, right? That is when the Full Moon is at its closest point (perigee) to Earth. It looks a bit larger to the naked eye. It’s not an astronomical term but more of a popularized term.
So, it is no surprise that the opposite – a micromoon – began to be used when a Full Moon or a New Moon coincides with apogee – the point in the Moon’s orbit farthest away from Earth.
The Moon orbits Earth in an elliptical path, which means one side of the path is closer to the Earth than the other.
The January 2023 Full Moon is typically called the Wolf Moon. It will be full at 6:08 PM EST or 11:08 PM UTC. It is considered to be the first Full Moon of the Winter 2022-2023 season as the December 2022 Full Moon occurred prior to the Winter Solstice. This is the Full Moon in Cancer.
How different will the Moon look tonight? It is further away and looks approximately 14% smaller than a Supermoon – though that is easy to discern to the naked eye. The illuminated area appears 30% smaller, so it might look a little less bright.
Old folklore accounts suggest that Full, New, Super, and Micro Moons all affect human mental health and bring on natural disasters, like earthquakes, but no scientific evidence supports any such correlation. Still, be on the lookout tonight…
The Full Moon last week was called a “supermoon” because it was closer to Earth and so looked a bit larger. Tonight is the New Moon – the “invisible” Moon – and some people have given this one the name “Micromoon.” Both terms are not scientific or official and only came into being in recent times.
A Micromoon is when a Full Moon or a New Moon coincides with apogee, the point in the Moon’s orbit farthest away from Earth. I have also seen it called Minimoon or Apogee Moon. It is considered to be “micro” Full Moon or New Moon when the Moon’s center is farther than 405,000 kilometers (ca. 251,655 miles) from the center of Earth.
Will it really look different? A Full Micro Moon will look approximately 14% smaller than a Supermoon and the illuminated area appears 30% smaller, so it might look a little less bright. Of course, a Micro New Moon – like all New Moons – is not lit for us to see, so it being farther away will not have any effect on what we see – or more accurately, don’t see.
Even unseen, the New Moon still affects tides which shows the greatest difference between high and low tides around a Full Moon and a New Moon. Micromoons mean a smaller variation of about 5 cm (2 inches).
Moon lore suggests that Full Moons, New Moons, Micromoons, and Supermoons affect human mental health. It was also believed that they also could create natural disasters, such as earthquakes, because of the pull of the Moon and Sun in the way that it affects tides. No scientific evidence supports these kinds of correlations.
The next full moon will be on Friday, November 19th at 4:02 am ET. This month you can hang many labels on the Full Moon. Micro Beaver Blood Moon Eclipse is a mouthful, so let me explain.
Common names for this Full Moon are the Beaver Moon, Frost Moon (or Freezing Moon depending on your location) and the Deer Rutting Moon. But this year it will get more attention because it will be what some people call a blood moon eclipse.
The Moon will reach its full redpoint 4:02 a.m ET and Americans can get a quick glimpse if they are awake. If you want to see the complete eclipse, you’ll have to start watching at 2:18 a.m ET when the white moon starts shifting to red.
This is a partial lunar eclipse but it will put 97% of the Moon into darkness. Depending on where you are in the world it occurs on Thursday, November 18 and into the early hours of Friday over North America. It will also be visible from Australia, New Zealand, eastern Asia and part of South America.
The big buzz in the media is that this will be the longest partial lunar eclipse since 1440. The entire eclipse lasts around 6 hours, Not to spoil things but the longest lunar eclipse in recent history was the total lunar eclipse of July 27, 2018, which lasted about 12 minutes longer than the one this week.
Here’s another label to hang on this lunar event. Lunar eclipses only happen on the night of a full moon. This month’s Full Moon will be the smallest full moon of the year. This is known as a “micromoon” which is the opposite of the “supermoon.” Supermoons are a popular term for when the Moon is closest to Earth. This month, the Moon will be at near apogee (the point in its orbit when it is farthest away from the Earth) and so it is a micromoon. It will appear about 14% smaller and 30% dimmer than a supermoon. Will you notice this with the naked eye? Probably not.
If there are no clouds obscuring the Moon, you should be able to see it even in a light-polluted place, unlike meteor showers. If its cloudy or you don’t want to go outside, the timeanddate.com website will be providing live coverage of the event on YouTube from 2 a.m. ET.
North America will experience a pair to total lunar eclipses next year in May and November.