Explained: Why was the moon so big on March 30?

The waning moon rises beyond downtown Kansas City, Mo., Monday. -Photo: AP

Hyderabad: Unless you turned off your phone or did not step out of the house in the past couple of days, you’d have seen the full moon in all of its orange glory in the night sky. This time it was bigger and brighter than the last full-moon because it was within 90 per cent of its ‘perigee’ in the orbit.

Moon revolves around the earth in an elliptical orbit, shaped like an egg. The farthest point is called the ‘apogee’ and the closest point is called the ‘perigee’. This applies to any celestial body that revolves around another body.

In simpler, non-textbook words, the moon was about 50,000 km closer to the earth than its farthest distance and in some definitions, this is also called a SuperMoon. On March 30, the moon was about 3,60,311 km from earth as opposed to the ‘apogee’ which is slightly more than 4 lakh km from the earth.

As N Sri Raghunandan Kumar, the founder and director of Planetary Society of India explains, “The average distance between the earth and the moon is 3,84,000 km. While it revolves around the earth, the moon can be either in a full-moon phase or in a new-moon phase during the ‘perigee’ or ‘apogee’ or vice versa. On March 30, it was a day after the full-moon that it happened to be in ‘perigee’ and that is why it was visible so big on Tuesday. On April 14, it will be slightly more than 4 lakh km from earth, because it will be at its ‘apogee’.”

This moon is also termed as a Worm Moon in western countries because this is the first full-moon when the spring starts and the frozen ground starts thawing, bringing worms out. According to official sources like NASA, the full moons in April and May will be closer than this one.

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