The summer solstice has come and gone, and the days seem to stretch on endlessly, the late-night sunsets glowing up until bedtime.
But this summer the nights will rival the days when the moon hits its full point three months running: July 12, August 10 and September 9.
Call it Supermoon Summer, because each full moon over the next three months will be a perigee moon, meaning Mother Earth’s satellite is at its closest for the year. The moon’s orbit is elliptical, as the NASA video below explains, and the moon is 31,000 miles closer than when it is at apogee, its farthest. The perigee full moons are the ones that appear giant and particularly luminous, especially when near the horizon. The moon’s average distance is 238,855 miles away, Space.com says.
“This coincidence happens three times in 2014,” NASA said in a statement. “On July 12th and Sept 9th the Moon becomes full on the same day as perigee. On August 10th it becomes full during the same hour as perigee—arguably making it an extra-super Moon.”
This is not the first supermoon of 2014, though. It is merely the most visible. The first two occurred in January, and they were new moons, and thus invisible.
The triple phenom also occurred last year, NASA noted, since it commonly happens every 13 months and 18 days, which is when the full moon and perigee coincide.
On July 12, the moon will reach its full phase at 7:25 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time, according to Space.com, a little less than three hours after it reaches perigee. It rises at 8:15 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
So watch for moonrise on Saturday July 12, and ogle. Then brace yourself for two others in August and September. The closest one of those will be on August 10, according to Earthsky.org.
The tides will be elevated along with the moon’s size and brilliance, Earthsky.org said.
“Spring tides will accompany the July, August and September supermoons,” Earthsky.org reported. “Will the tides be larger than usual at the July, August and September 2014 full moons? Yes, all full moons (and new moons) combine with the sun to create larger-than-usual tides, but perigee full moons (or perigee new moons) elevate the tides even more.”