Keiran's World World by word by word

Get ready for super-duper moon viewing

Supermoon. Photo © Robert Hensley (photography.roberthensley.com), via creative commons and flickr

Nature Boy calls it a peri-gee whiz moon, because “gee whiz, doesn’t the moon look big!”

That’s not its official name, of course.

Neither is it a peri-Cheez Whiz moon, another moniker bandied about the household in recent weeks. When a massy-looking full moon last appeared—just last month, on the night of July 12—it bore the fake-cheese colour.

Tomorrow night, anybody who steps outside and looks moonwards will see a similarly bloated orb. It is the second in a sequence of three oversized full moons we will be treated to this year, and is the biggest looking of them all.

The official name of the moon that we can view tomorrow night describes the event much more ploddingly than our alternatives. Because the Earth sits off centre within the moon’s egg-shaped path around our planet, once every month the moon approaches Earth about 50,000 km closer than when it swings out on the other, long side of its orbit.

That closer encounter is called the moon’s perigee.

When the timing of the perigee coincides with either the full or new phase of the moon, pointy-headedness truly comes into ascension. No doubt only after considering all the possibilities within the classical languages that science usually draws on and pondering innumerable likely references to laws of nature, wonders of the universe, and marvels of artificial cheese and other foodstuffs, Astronomy chose to label the phenomenon a “perigee moon”….

Read the rest of this editorial at the Victoria Times Colonist….

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