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Superluna del 9 de marzo despide el invierno


The full moon on March 9 will coincide with its current perigee, the closest point in its orbit to Earth. This will make us see it 12% larger and 29.2% brighter than when it is further away. The phenomenon can be enjoyed with the naked eye, but also thanks to internet broadcasts, such as the one offered by astronomers from the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias from the Teide Observatory.

The term  supermoon was coined in the late 1970s in an unscientific way, when astrologer (not an astronomer)  Richard Nolle  mentioned it in the  Dell Horoscope magazine  to refer to a full or new moon located at a relative distance close to Earth.  perigee , the point in its orbit closest to our planet.

The term became popular and today refers to the perception we have from Earth of the largest diameter and brightness of the full Moon with respect to  apogee , the maximum distance at which this satellite is from us. Its  apparent diameter can increase up to 14% and its brightness up to 30% .

The apparent size and brightness of this supermoon will increase by 12% and 29.2%, respectively, because it is now at the closest point in its orbit to us.

This Monday  , March 9,  one of these supermoons will occur. On this occasion, its apparent size and brightness will increase by 12% and 29.2%, respectively, with respect to the apogee. This will be because our satellite will pass  357,404 km from Earth  (when the maximum apogee of 2020 will be 406,690 km).

The Moon revolves around the Earth with a period of approximately 28 days, but its orbit is not circular: it is an  ellipse . That is the reason why the Moon-Earth distance is not always the same and, therefore, neither are the size and brightness that we perceive from its image. To this we must add that the orbital parameters of the Moon vary over the years due to the influences that the gravity of the Sun and the planets exert on it.

Superluna del 9 de  marzo despide el invierno

Comparative image of a supermoon and a micromoon, a difference only apparent depending on whether it is closer (perigee) or farther (apogee) from Earth in its orbit. /NASA

Although there is no exact scientific definition, it is understood that a supermoon occurs if the full Moon happens near the lunar perigee, so this year 2020 we will hear about up to four  supermoons : the one that occurred in February (although this one, for example, does not Nell picks it up in her  calendar ), the current one in March, which will be the  last of this winter  in the northern hemisphere ( summer in the south ), and two others in the following months: one in April and another in May.

In fact, this astronomical event is so common that between three and five supermoons usually occur a year.


Broadcast from Teide

This phenomenon can be observed by looking directly at the sky when the Moon rises, but some institutions are also going to broadcast it over the internet from privileged settings. This is the case of the  Teide Observatory , in the Canary Islands, where the rise of the supermoon will align at sunset with the shadow of the volcano that crowns the summit of Tenerife.

With the collaboration of the EELabs project  , coordinated by the  Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) , the live broadcast on  will begin at 6:45 p.m. (local time, one more on the Peninsula). . The IAC astronomer and administrator of the Teide Observatory,  Miquel Serra-Ricart , will lead the development of this event. 

The rise of the supermoon will align at sunset with the shadow of Teide, an astronomical event that will be broadcast on the internet

When one stands at the top of a mountain, at an hour close to sunset (or sunrise), it is possible to observe its shadow in the same solar direction, but in the opposite direction. In the first moments, the shape of the shadow will reproduce the silhouette of the mountain peak and, as time progresses, the length of this shadow will grow because the height of the Sun will decrease and its projection in the atmosphere will end up being triangular.

Teide  ,  due to its height (the highest in Spain), and because all horizons are clear from its peak, is one of the best places to observe the formation and evolution of the shadow of a mountain.

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If the full moon and solar twilight are close, it is possible to observe the shadow of this huge volcano and the full moon. And if, in addition, the moment of this coincides with sunrise or sunset, you can see an approximate alignment between the shadow of Teide and the natural satellite of the Earth, a spectacle like the one that will take place on March 9.


Rights:  Creative Commons.
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