UK & World News

  • 11 August 2014, 11:55

Giant Supermoon Lights Up Sky Across Globe

Stargazers around the globe have been dazzled by the biggest and brightest "supermoon" of the year.

Also known as the perigee moon, the moon appeared 14% larger and 30% brighter than normal as it reached the point in its orbit closest to the Earth, known as perigee.

Many took photos of the lunar spectacle, which comes two days before the Perseids meteor shower reaches its peak.

And before the supermoon became visible to people on Earth, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev took a series of pictures of the event as seen from the International Space Station (ISS).

The images posted on his Twitter account show the moon slowly disappearing behind the Earth, in what Mr Artemyev called a "moonset".

The moon's distance from Earth varies between approximately 217,480 miles (350,000km) and 248,548 miles (400,000km) because of its oval orbit, meaning it appears to be various sizes when seen from our planet. It got as close as 221,765 miles (356,896km) overnight.

Dr Bill Cooke from the US space agency Nasa's Meteoroid Environment Office, said the luminous supermoon risked drowning out the meteor shower.

"Lunar glare wipes out the black-velvety backdrop required to see faint meteors, and sharply reduces counts," he said.

Dr Cooke added that the Perseids were also "rich in fireballs as bright as Jupiter or Venus" that would remain visible despite the moon's glare.

The Perseids meteor shower is a result of material falling from the tail of Comet Swift-Tuttle, which last passed near the Earth in 1992, and is active each year from around mid-July to late-August.

The supermoon tends to bring high and low tides, but claims that it is linked to natural disasters like earthquakes or volcanic eruptions have been denied by experts.

An unusually bright full supermoon was also seen on July 12, and is due to appear again on September 9.

Supermoons usually occur every 13 months and 18 days, but are not always noticed because of clouds or poor weather.

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