Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s the supermoon


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The Independent Online

Tides rose and the night was bright when a "supermoon" graced the skies in the early hours of yesterday morning. The Moon appeared in its biggest and brightest form this year as it came within 221,802 miles from our planet.

That is about 15,300 miles closer than average. Contrary to legend, the large Moon did not cause an upsurge in strange behaviour or natural disasters, but it did provide a stunning backdrop for photographers around the world. Many took the opportunity to capture images of the giant Moon looming over famous landmarks.

The phenomenon, known as a perigee full moon, appeared about 14 per cent bigger than it would if the Moon was at its farthest distance, according Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory. Dr Robert Massey, of the Royal Astronomical Society, warned before the event that many people may be slightly disappointed by what they saw.

"The eye is so good at compensating for changes in brightness that you simply don’t notice [that element] so much," he said. But, he added: "The Moon is always beautiful and a full moon is always dramatic."

On the rising of the tides, Dr Massey said: "When the Moon is closest to the Earth and full or new, you get an increase in the tidal pull in the ocean because the gravity of the Moon and the Sun line up."

The Moon’s distance from Earth varies because it follows an elliptical orbit rather than a circular one.