See The Brilliant ‘Buck Moon’ Supermoon Rising Around The Globe

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Did you see the first full Moon of summer 2022?

Rising in the east on Wednesday, July 13, 2022, the full “Buck Moon,” “Thunder Moon” or “Raspberry Moon” was captured by photographers as it appeared on the horizon.

The full Moon always rises in the east at dusk (opposite a sunset, or thereabouts) and sets in the west the following morning (opposite a sunrise). Only on the night of the full Moon is it possible to see the Moon appear on the horizon during dusk.

The “Buck Moon” looked orange as it appeared in the east. That’s because when we see it so low in the sky we’re looking through the thickest part of Earth’s atmosphere.

The physics at play here is Rayleigh scattering. Earth’s atmosphere contains oxygen and nitrogen molecules that absorb some wavelengths of light more effectively than others. So why does orange dominate the light that makes it to your eyes when you watch a moonrise?

Colors in the Sun’s light with short wavelengths, such as blue, strike more particles and are therefore more often absorbed. They scatter more easily, which is why the sky is blue during the day. Colors with longer wavelengths, such orange, more easily pass through the atmosphere uninhibited.

The “Buck Moon” was also the second-largest “supermoon” of the year after last nth’s “Strawberry Moon.” The Moon’s orbit path around Earth is slightly elliptical, so there’s always a point every month—called perigee—when it’s at its closest to us. At that point it looks about 6% larger than the average.

The “Buck Moon” was at perigee on the same day as it turned full. While the full Moon occurred at 6:38 p.m. UTC, the Moon reached perigee at 9:06 a.m. UTC when it was 221,993 miles/357,264 kilometers from Earth.

Although a supermoon it’s technically slightly larger in the sky, it’s extremely hard for the casual observer to detect any change. However, a full Moon when viewed on the horizon does look large.

That’s because of the “Moon illusion,” which is when the human brain sees disc of the moon on the horizon during dusk and compares its size to other things it can see, such as trees and buildings.

After all, the apparent diameter of the Moon is only 0.5º and that doesn’t change much during a “supermoon.” The celestial sphere around our planet is 360º, and from any one place on Earth you can see 180º. At 0.5º the full Moon fills just one 72,000th of what you can see.

The next full Moon is the “Sturgeon Moon”—also called the “Fruit Moon” and the “Barley Moon”—which will rise on Thursday/Friday, August 11/12, 2022.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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