What is Buck Supermoon and how to watch it
At 12:08am IST on July 14, step out of your house or go to your balcony because you do not want to miss this year's biggest supermoon. Also called Buck Supermoon, Thunder Supermoon, or Mead Supermoon, this is the closest the moon will be to us earthlings this year. Due to the nearness, it is set to cause some dramatic changes in ocean tides.
On Wednesday (July 13) at 9am GMT (2:30pm IST), the moon will be 357,264km away from earth, the shortest distance between the two this year. Later that night, the moon officially turns full. When a full moon coincides with perigee or the moon's closest approach to earth in its elliptical orbit, a supermoon occurs. However, 'supermoon' is not an official astronomical term.
Male deer shed their antlers in the early spring or late winter and grow them back during summer. In the summer months, antlers are protected by a dry, velvety layer, which falls away when they are fully grown. By July, the bucks usually have full-sized antlers in preparation for the breeding season. Therefore, the Algonquin tribe named the supermoon as Buck Moon.
Do you know that a full moon theoretically only lasts for a moment? What we see after that is simply a nearly full 'full moon.' Our naked eye is too 'human' to perceive the moon's trickery.
If 'supermoon' is not an official term, who is behind it? That credit goes to astrologer Richard Noelle. He first used it in a 1979 edition of the now-defunct American magazine 'Dell Horoscope.' He was also behind the definition of 'supermoon.' The term existed in obscurity in the 20th-century and the first decade of 21st-century. However, the year 2011 saw things change.
The term supermoon came into prominence after the 9.1 magnitude Tohoku earthquake that struck Japan in 2011. Eight days after the quake, a full moon coincided with perigee, and guess what, suggestions about that correlation between the two started. Interestingly, Noelle was one of the first to make this claim. He said that supermoons can cause geophysical stress.
Was the supermoon behind the 2011 earthquake in Japan? Of course, not. In fact, the moon was closer to the apogee point (farthest from Earth) when the earthquake occurred. If there was any such correlation, don't you think seismologists would have thought of it?
During a supermoon, it is said that the moon will be 17% bigger and 30% brighter. What you should know is that this is in comparison to full moons near their apogee or 'micromoons.' The change in brightness and size will not be detectable to the naked eye because they are minuscule as far as the moon is concerned.
A full moon qualifies as a supermoon if its distance from Earth is equal to or greater than 90% of its distance from apogee to perigee. Based on this, there are three to four supermoons every year. In some cases, even five. The last supermoon this year was the strawberry moon last month.
In India, the biggest supermoon of this year will be visible from 12:08am IST onward on July 14. It will be visible for nearly three days. The next such supermoon will appear on July 3, 2023.