Supermoon Facts, Myths and Moon Photography Tips (Updated for 2016)
What is a Supermoon?
Supermoon is a spectacular astronomical event when the moon looks like a giant fireball in the sky. It's quite striking.
A perigee full moon (or supermoon is lay terms) happens about 4-6 times a year when the full moon coincides with the period when the distance between the Earth and the moon is minimal. It happens because moon's orbit is elliptical, so it's not always at the same distance from Earth.
The largest supermoon of the year 2015 took place on September 28. The next super-duper moon of such magnitude will not occur until October 16, 2016 (the Blood Moon). It will be the first of three supermoons of 2016, followed by November 14 (the Hunter's Moon) and December 14 (Full Cold Moon).
Can the Moon Cause Earthquakes?
The most destructive earthquakes - Sumatra (December 2004), Haiti (12 January 2010), Chile (27 February 2010), Japan (March 11, 2011) - occurred near the full or the new moon, or around a supermoon. AccuWeather.com reports that
"There were SuperMoons in 1955, 1974, 1992 and 2005. These years had their share of extreme weather and other natural events."
These earthquakes, with epicenters in the ocean, happened during the times of stronger ocean tides. So how can we discard the influence of the moon on catastrophic natural events that take place on Earth?
The movement of the moon is linked to Earth's ocean tides, so the closer the moon is to the Earth, the greater its gravitational force. Even a slight increase in tidal energy can become that last straw that triggers the Earth's discharge.
Is Supermoon to Blame for "Titanic"?
On April 14, 1912 the British ocean liner "Titanic" collided with an iceberg and sank in 2 hours 40 minutes during his first transatlantic journey. Of 2224 people on board, 1513 died.
So what does it have to do with the moon?
Some researchers propose that the unusually close position of the moon in January 1912 could have triggered powerful oceanic tides, causing a high concentration of icebergs in the North Atlantic region.
On January 4, 1912 the moon was at its closest to the earth ("supermoon"). In fact, that supermoon was the most powerful moon in 1400 years! At the same time, the Earth was at its closest to the sun, a phenomenon known as perihelion, so the gravitational forces of both the moon and the sun were greatly enhanced prior to the tragedy (this theory is based on the findings of an American oceanographer Fergus Wood in "Tidal Dynamics: Coastal Flooding and Cycles of Gravitational Force").
So the iceberg that caused "Titanic" to sink was brought by the "super tide" of the supermoon. Or it could be just another tragic synchronicity among a myriad of "coincidences" that inexplicably conspired together to seal the ship's fate.
Do You Feel Any Different During the Full Moon?
What About the Full Moon Lunacy?
Do you feel any different during the full moon? Many people do. The hospitals and police stations are said to fill up with deranged and hurt people on these special days. Supermoon should amplify these effects even more.
Yet statisticians say there is no significant correlation between the full moon and erratic human behavior. But is there some correlation?
Since the moon affects the ocean and all other bodies of water, in many cultures it is considered the ruler of the water element. Human body is about 70 percent water. So you tell me...
Full moon lunacy aside, the supermoon is a unique astronomical event which you would be advised not to miss, both for its captivating beauty and the spiritual rewards it offers.
Free Online Moon Phase Calendar
Supermoon is a Potent Spiritual Time
From the Buddhist point of view, the full moon represents spiritual enlightenment.
For example, Buddha attained His Enlightenment on a full moon. For that reason it is recommended to rest and meditate during the full moon days.
Similarly, in Native American cultures full moon is considered the best time for cleansing and purification, so the sweat lodge ceremonies are often held during the full moon.
Why does the full moon have such spiritual significance? Because the moon acts as a magnifying glass. Any imbalance becomes bigger and more conspicuous. Similarly, positive attributes and talents become amplified.
Supermoon offers an even greater opportunity for enhancement. This is the time of revelation, when all that is buried deep in your psyche comes to light. This is a chance to let go of anything that doesn't serve your highest good.
Since many ancient goddesses are associated with the moon, it is also a high time to connect with the Divine Feminine. Use this opportunity to illuminate your inner God/dess.
A Good Starter Lens with Image Stabilization
Tips on How to Photograph the Supermoon
If you like photography and always look for opportunities to capture something special, the full moon never disappoints. Let alone the supermoon!
The view is particularly impressive when the moon had just risen above the horizon, or, conversely, is preparing to fall behind the edge of the Earth.
In those moments, it looks much larger than at the zenith. Now get your camera ready!
Here's how to take beautiful moon shots.
- You don't have to use a tripod but it really helps. Nighttime photography is tricky without it - even the slightest movement of the hands makes the image blurry. So ideally set it up somewhere so you don't have to hold it. A nit trick is to also set it up for an automatic timer picture because pressing the shutter button also causes camera shake.
- Use the telephoto lens. Again, not a necessity, but that's the difference between a stunning moon close-up and a picture of a shiny spec in the sky. You would have to use at least 300 mm photo lens.
- I know your instinct is to use the nighttime setting on your camera but that would be a mistake! It will overexpose your picture. Instead, set the manual settings to ISO 100, aperture f 11, shutter speed 1/125.
- If you're not sure which settings to use, the golden rule is: experiment! experiment! experiment! Experiment with different angles, surroundings, focus, times, concepts.Take as many pictures as you can - a few are bound to be worthwhile.
- As previously mentioned, the best time to admire the moon is soon after its rising, while it appears to be hanging low. While it's still fairly light outside, you can capture all those beautiful golden and pink hues in the sky, and whatever surroundings you choose for your supermoon shot. Later at night the darkness blots everything out and the moon appears too bright against the black backdrop, causing overexposure.
- Use a free (mostly) online photo editor like PicMonkey (or the editing software of your choice) to play with your supermoon images. PicMonkey is very easy to use, and it has a great selection of filters, effects, fonts and other editing tools. The image below took me 15 minutes to create, with only the free features. I used the water and the twinkling stars effects, and experimented with different colors.
Southern Hemisphere Full Moon Names
January: Hay Moon, Buck Moon, Thunder Moon, Mead Moon
February: Grain Moon, Sturgeon Moon, Red Moon, Wyrt Moon, Corn Moon, Dog Moon, Barley Moon
March: Harvest Moon, Corn Moon
April: Harvest Moon, Hunter’s Moon, Blood Moon
May: Hunter’s Moon, Beaver Moon, Frost Moon
June: Oak Moon, Cold Moon, Long Night’s Moon
July: Wolf Moon, Old Moon, Ice Moon
August: Snow Moon, Storm Moon, Hunger Moon, Wolf Moon
September: Worm Moon, Lenten Moon, Crow Moon, Sugar Moon, Chaste Moon, Sap Moon
October: Egg Moon, Fish Moon, Seed Moon, Pink Moon, Waking Moon
November: Corn Moon, Milk Moon, Flower Moon, Hare Moon
December: Strawberry Moon, Honey Moon, Rose Moon
Northern Hemisphere Full Moon Names
January: Old Moon, Moon After Yule
February: Snow Moon, Hunger Moon, Wolf Moon
March: Sap Moon, Crow Moon, Lenten Moon
April: Grass Moon, Egg Moon
May: Planting Moon, Milk Moon
June: Rose Moon, Flower Moon, Strawberry Moon
July: Thunder Moon, Hay Moon
August: Green Corn Moon, Grain Moon
September: Fruit Moon, Harvest Moon
October: Harvest Moon, Hunter’s Moon
November: Hunter’s Moon, Frosty Moon, or Beaver Moon
December: Moon Before Yule, or Long Night Moon