Astronomy

How can the next supermoon be analytically predicted?

How can the next supermoon be analytically predicted?


We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

The lunar motion can be predicted with basic celestial mechanics, but the perigee and apogee are not always the same, basically because the attraction of the Sun makes some oscilations in the semi-axis of the orbit (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perturbation_(astronomy)).

My question is: how do they know when the full moon will get as close as it got in the recent supermoon? For example, the Dailypost article Biggest Supermoon in 68 years will light up the November sky claims that the full moon won't come this close to Earth until November 25th, 2034.
How do they kow that? Are they using the perturbation theory equations to predict this? If so, can anybody give me some source or explanation of how it's done analytically?


A slightly more useful answer than my comment above:

Using http://wgc.jpl.nasa.gov:8080/webgeocalc/#NewCalculation "Angular Separation Finder" feature, we can determine when the angle between the Sun and the Moon is at a local maximum. It turns out this isn't quite the definition of Full Moon, but it's very close. I couldn't find a way to make webgeocalc compute full moon times exactly, though I'm sure there is a way, and, of course, there are plenty of tables of full moons online.

Starting at http://wgc.jpl.nasa.gov:8080/webgeocalc/#AngularSeparationFinder we fill out the form as so:

and click the "Calculate" button.

This yields a list of all "full" moons. Scroll down and click on the "Save All Intervals" button:

We now want to find the moon's distance at all of the times we just saved (ie, the times of the "full" moons). To do this, start at http://wgc.jpl.nasa.gov:8080/webgeocalc/#StateVector and fill out as follows:

NOTE: to get the list of intervals above, drag from the saved intervals result window into the list of intervals window.

The results, which you can also download, tell you the moon's distance from the Earth at the times of the "full" moons we computed earlier:

I downloaded the results in Excel format, imported them into gnumeric and sorted by radius (distance from Earth to Moon) and did a little additional cleanup to get:

(the full spreadsheet is available at https://github.com/barrycarter/bcapps/blob/master/STACK/StateVectorResults.xls)

So, yes, tonight's full moon (yellow) is the closest we'll have until 2034-11-25 (red). It's also the 6th closest moon we'll have this century.

To see other examples of geocalc in action, see my:

  • What is the format of the data from the JPL's HORIZONS system?

  • https://space.stackexchange.com/questions/18718/calculating-positions-of-moons-ascending-and-descending-nodes-from-ephemeris-fi

For more about how NASA calculates these values in the first place: Where can I find a set of data of the initial conditions of our solar system? which is also now linked to the general "how to compute positions" wiki answer: Where can I find/visualize planets/stars/moons/etc positions?


The Sun Could Reach ‘Solar Maximum’ Just At The Right Time For North Americans

Totality is shown during the solar eclipse at Palm Cove in Australia's Tropical North Queensland on . [+] November 14, 2012. Eclipse-hunters have flocked to Queensland's tropical northeast to watch the region's first total solar eclipse in 1,300 years on November 14, which occurred as the moon passed between the earth and the sun, casting a shadow path on the globe and lasting for a maximum on the Australian mainland of 2 minutes and 5 seconds.

UPDATE: for clarity the headline was changed from “Why And When The Sun At Its Most Potent Will Reveal Itself As A Naked Eye Sight To North Americans.”

Solar scientists have suspected for a few months that the Sun’s new cycle may be one of its strongest periods since record-keeping began. New data now suggests that it’s running ahead of schedule—and that could mean it hitting “solar maximum” much earlier than previously predicted.

As reported by Spaceweather.com, the Sun’s new cycle—Solar Cycle 25—may only just be beginning, but it’s already seeing many more sunspots on our star than expected. In fact, just last week the Sun just produced an M-class solar flare, the strongest so far in Solar Cycle 25, which caused a shortwave radio blackout over the Pacific Ocean.

The Sun has a cycle lasting roughly 11 years during which its activity is tracked by counting how many sunspots are counted by solar scientists. That’s been done since 1755, which is classed as Solar Cycle 1.

Solar Cycle 25 only began in December 2019—after the weakest solar cycle in 100 years—so it’s early days, but things appear to be hotting-up after a very slow start.

Observed and predicted sunspot numbers show a spike in recent months.

U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC)

29 Intelligent Alien Civilizations May Have Already Spotted Us, Say Scientists

Explained: Why This Week’s ‘Strawberry Moon’ Will Be So Low, So Late And So Luminous

The Unfiltered Truth Behind Human Magnetism, Vaccines, And COVID-19

Scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA and the International Space Environmental Services (ISES) put together a constantly updated forecast for the solar cycle.

The latest forecast says that solar maximum—when the number of sunspots peaks and our star is at its most active—will occur between November 2024 and March 2026, but most likely around July 2025.

It now looks more like November 2024.

“The current behavior of the sun is consistent with an early onset near the beginning of our predicted range,” said Lisa Upton, co-chair of the NOAA/NASA Solar Cycle 25 Prediction Panel, Space Systems Research Corporation, to Spaceweather.com.

That could be great news for North America. On April 8, 2024 a total solar eclipse will be visible from Mexico, the U.S. and Canada. Much like the “Great American Eclipse” in 2017, but much longer, it will be possible for observers to experience totality for as long as 4 minutes 26 seconds.

During totality the Moon blocks the Sun almost perfectly and allows observers to see the Sun’s incredible corona. This hotter outer atmosphere of the Sun is usually completely invisible, lost in the Sun’s glare, and only during totality can it be seen—and only with the naked eye.

People view the solar eclipse from the beach at Palm Cove in Australia's Tropical North Queensland . [+] on November 14, 2012. Eclipse-hunters have flocked to Queensland's tropical northeast to watch the region's first total solar eclipse in 1,300 years on November 14, which occurred as the moon passed between the earth and the sun, casting a shadow path on the globe and lasting for a maximum on the Australian mainland of 2 minutes and 5 seconds. AFP PHOTO / Tourism Queensland == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / AFP PHOTO / Tourism Queensland " - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS == (Photo credit should read Murray Anderson-Clemence/AFP via Getty Images)

The Sun’s corona waxes and wanes in size, appearing relatively small close to “solar minimum”—such as during the 2019 total solar eclipse in South America—and appearing larger and more dramatic during solar maximum.

The next total solar eclipse isn’t until August 12, 2026, which will be visible in Iceland or Spain. That’s likely to be after solar maximum.

So the closer “solar maximum” is to April 2024, the better for between 32 million and 50 million North Americans looking for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the Sun’s mighty corona with their own eyes.


RELATED ARTICLES

Meanwhile, people in the US look set to enjoy a clearer view when the sun goes down.

Further east, those in northern India will have the best cloud-free view, according to the Meteo Earth predictions.

Some north west and south eastern states are predicted to have heavy cloud cover today at the time the supermoon is expected to peak, including Florida, Virginia and Oregon, according to forecasts issued by the NOAA.

But for the rest of the US the cloud cover is forecast to be minimal.

Experts suggest that, provided that the sky is clear and you have a view to the south, the moon will be clearly visible. For an even better view, try viewing from a spot with as little light pollution as possible. Participants in a Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb walk down the western span of the famous Australian landmark as the supermoon rises

Today the moon will be the closest to Earth it's been since January 1948. During the event, it will appear up to 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than an average full moon. The supermoon as seen from Northen Shropshire last night

The whole of the UK looks set to be covered in a cloak of cloud cover for most of the night, according to Meteo Earth (pictured left forecast at 8:10 PM GMT) and the Met Office. Many European countries will also have an obstructed view. Further east (shown right) those in countries surrounding Iran, Pakistan and northern India will have the best cloud-free view

South America and some north west and south eastern states in the US are predicted to have heavy cloud cover when the sun sets (pictured). But for the rest of the US, including the central states, the cloud cover is forecast to be minimal

WHAT IS A SUPERMOON?

Supermoons are new or full moons that occur when the orbit of the moon brings it particularly close to Earth.

For this reason, it appears to be bigger than normal - by about 10 per cent.

We usually get between four and six supermoons a year, but this November is special because the moon will be closer to Earth than at any time this century, and we won't get as near again until 2034.

The supermoon will arrive today. It will be the second supermoon of the year, the first having already happened on October 16, and the third expected on December 14.

At 8.09 PM GMT (3.09 PM ET) the moon will be the closest it has been to the Earth since 1948, at a distance of around 217,000 miles (350,000 km).

This will be when the moon is at its biggest and brightest during the day.

But the whole of the UK looks set to be covered in a cloak of cloud cover around 8PM GMT, according to the Met Office.

Even if your view is not clear, Slooh Observatory will be doing a live broadcast.

'I've been telling people to go out at night on either Sunday or Monday night to see the supermoon,' said Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission.

'The difference in distance from one night to the next will be very subtle, so if it's cloudy on Sunday, go out on Monday. Any time after sunset should be fine.

'Since the moon is full, it'll rise at nearly the same time as sunset, so I'd suggest that you head outside after sunset, or once it's dark and the moon is a bit higher in the sky.

'You don't have to stay up all night to see it, unless you really want to!'

At 8.09 PM GMT (3.09 PM ET) the moon will be the closest it has been to the Earth since 1948, at a distance of around 217,000 miles (350,000 km). This will be when the moon is at its biggest and brightest during the day. But the whole of the UK looks set to be covered in a cloak of cloud cover around 8PM GMT, according to the Met Office

Some north west and south eastern states in the US are predicted to have heavy cloud cover today at the time the supermoon is expected to peak, including Florida, Virginia and Oregon, according to forecasts issued by the NOAA (pictured)

Supermoons are new or full moons that occur when the orbit of the moon brings it particularly close to Earth. For this reason, it appears to be bigger than normal - by about 10 per cent

FIVE SUPERMOON FACTS

It was not until 1979 that Astrologer Richard Nolle first defined the supermoon, which is now a widely-used term, as 'a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90 per cent of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit'.

The moon has to be 226,000 miles (363,711 km) away from the Earth to be considered 'super' which normally happens only once every 14 months. However, there will be no supermoons in 2017.

Because of its close proximity to the Earth, the moon's surface appears a lot bigger when a supermoon occurs, which makes for stunning photography.

A winter supermoon is supersized, as the Earth is closest to the sun in December each year, which means its gravity pulls the moon closer to the planet making it appear brighter and larger than those that occur during the rest of the year.

Supermoons will get smaller in the future as the moon is slowly propelling itself out of Earth's orbit, moving 1.5 inches (3.8cm) further from the Earth each year.

WHERE IS THE BEST PLACE TO VIEW IT?

Experts suggest that, provided that the sky is clear and you have a view to the south, the moon will be clearly visible.

'Like any full moon it will rise above the ground in the East at sunset and reach its highest point in the sky at midnight before descending to set with the rising sun,' Colin Stuart, astronomy author, told MailOnline.

'This is the same for everyone on Earth.'

For an even better view, try viewing from a spot with as little light pollution as possible.

The extraordinary visual effect of the moon is more pronounced when viewed near the horizon.

'The moon will look particularly big when seen close to the ground. It isn't actually bigger, but due to an effect called the moon Illusion it appears like it is,' Mr Stuart said.

'So if you can view it rising from a location with an unobstructed Eastern horizon free from trees and buildings you're more likely to see it at its 'biggest'.'

'You don't need any special equipment to see it the supermoon – just your eyes and a clear, cloud-free view of the sky,' Dr Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich told MailOnline.

'The moon usually appears most impressive when it's close to the horizon, so look out for it as it rises in the eastern sky around 6pm on the evenings of November 13th and 14th.'

'Many people these days don't have a connection with the night sky because light pollution ruins our view of space from built up areas,' Mr Stuart said.

'Something as easy to see as an unusually bright full moon is a great way to spark people's interest in astronomy and think about how our solar system works.

'Hopefully that will make them curious about seeing more of the wonders of the universe for themselves.'

Shadows of two men seen in front of the supermoon in Turkey. The sight of a perigee moon happens when the moon is full and makes its closest approach to Earth

The moon's orbit is elliptical rather than perfectly circular, so as the moon moves around the Earth it is sometimes a little bit closer and sometimes a bit further away from us

WHY WILL THE MOON APPEAR LARGER?

The moon's orbit is elliptical rather than perfectly circular, so as the moon moves around the Earth it is sometimes a little bit closer and sometimes a bit further away from us.

'If a full moon happens to occur when the Moon is also at its closest point then it will look slightly larger and brighter than usual – this is what is popularly known as a 'supermoon',' Dr Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich told MailOnline.

'It's a natural part of the moon's cycle and happens around once a year.

'The differences in apparent size and brightness amount to few percent but they can enhance the already beautiful sight of the full moon, making a supermoon worth looking up for.'

For this reason, it appears to be bigger than normal - by about 10 per cent.

We usually get between four and six supermoons a year, but this November is special because the moon will be closer to Earth than at any time this century, and we won't get as near again until 2034.

During the event, it will appear up to 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than an average full moon.

A winter supermoon is supersized, because the Earth is closest to the sun in December each year, which means its gravity pulls the moon closer to the planet making it appear brighter and larger than those that occur during the rest of the year.

The best time to view a super moon is when the moon is low on the horizon where 'an illusion will occur that makes it look unnaturally larger,' according to AccuWeather.

Since the moon's orbit is elliptical, one side (perigee) is about 30,000 miles (48, 280 km) closer to Earth than the other (apogee).

An American Airlines passenger plane passes in front of the moon, as seen from Whittier, California yesterday. Monday morning's supermoon will be the closet a full moon has been to the Earth since January 26, 1948

The supermoon captured yesterday at an old military airfield in Denmark. Always surrounded by an aura of mystery, the moon and its possible influence over human behaviour has been object of ancestral fascination and mythical speculation for centuries

DOES A SUPERMOON AFFECT OUR HEALTH? THE 'LUNATIC' EFFECT

Always surrounded by an aura of mystery, the moon and its possible influence over human behaviour has been object of ancestral fascination and mythical speculation for centuries.

While the full moon can't turn people into werewolves, some people do accuse it of causing a bad night's sleep or creating physical and mental alterations.

Dr Niall McCrae, a mental health researcher at King's College London, has spent years studying the phenomenon.

He told MailOnline he was first inspired to write his book 'The Moon and Madness' because looking back through archives he found a lack of research into the link between a full moon and mental health issues in the early 19th century. It appeared people were trying to distance themselves from the folklore, he said.

But, in stark contrast to this, mental health nurses Dr McCrae spoke to told of strong beliefs that at the time of a full moon, patients were more restless and agitated.

He said years ago, when mental health hospitals were buildings far away from cities placed on hills, with no curtains, the idea of a full moon affecting their sleep is very plausible.

Once one patient was woken by the light from the moon, they could become anxious or agitated and disturb other patients, causing a scene.

'In this environment, it's not unbelievable that moonlight can be a disturbing factor,' he said.

In the Bible, people described as 'lunatics' who fell to the ground, shaking, during a full moon might have been suffering from epileptic fits, he added.

Nowadays, he says, mental health care has changed and with different treatment, along with medication and artificial lighting, patients are less likely to be affected by the light from the moon.

To establish if lunar phases affect humans, an international group of researchers studied children in to see if their sleeping patterns changed or if there were any differences in their daily activities.

The research studied a total of 5,812 children from five continents, and the results were published in May this year.

The researchers found, in general, nocturnal sleep duration around full moon compared to new moon reported an average decrease of five minutes (or a one per cent variant).

Another study found healthy adults slept for 20 minutes less time during a full moon, Dr McCrae told MailOnline.

DOES THE MOON AFFECT THE WEATHER?

Some argue the moon has an impact on the weather, but the evidence shows this is not significant.

'The weather isn't affected by the moon,' Dr Marek Kukula told MailOnline.

'However the moon does affect the tides and, because the moon will be at its closest point to the Earth, high and low tides may be slightly more extreme than usual around the date of the supermoon - but only by a few centimetres.

Dr David Harland, space historian and author, said: 'It's possible that the moon may be a kilometre or two closer to Earth than normal at a perigee, but it's an utterly insignificant event. '

Previous supermoons took place in 1955, 1974, 1992 and 2005 - all years that had extreme weather events, conspiracy theorists say.

The tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people in Indonesia happened two weeks before the January 2005 supermoon. And on Christmas Day 1974, Cyclone Tracy laid waste to Darwin, Australia.

But Pete Wheeler of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy greeted warnings of an impending apocalypse with scepticism before the supermoon in 2011.

'There will be no earthquakes or volcanoes erupting, unless they are to happen anyway,' he told news.com.au at the time.

'Earth will experience just a lower than usual low tide and a higher than usual high tide around the time of the event, but nothing to get excited about.'

During a full moon, the sun and the moon are pulling on Earth from opposite sides - making the chances of any dramatic tidal events unlikely.

While the full moon can't turn people into werewolves, some people do accuse it of causing a bad night's sleep or creating physical and mental alterations. Image of the supermoon over Brisbane on Monday

'WEREWOLF' BIRDS HUNT USING LUNAR TIDES

Myth and folklore feature tales of werewolves being affected by phases of the moon, and it appears this behaviour isn't as far-fetched as it may seem.

Coastal wading birds shape their lives around the tides and new research shows different species follow prey cycles tied to our lunar satellite.

Experts now plan to study how their prey responds to such tidal forces to learn more about this behaviour.

DOES A SUPERMOON CAUSE MOOD SWINGS OR LACK OF SLEEP?

While the full moon can't turn people into werewolves, some people do accuse it of causing a bad night's sleep or creating physical and mental alterations.

To establish if lunar phases affect humans, an international group of researchers studied children in May this year to see if their sleeping patterns changed or if there were any differences in their daily activities.

The research studied a total of 5,812 children from five continents.

The children came from a wide range of economic and sociocultural levels, and variables such as age, sex, highest parental education, day of measurement, body mass index score, nocturnal sleep duration, level of physical activity and total sedentary time were considered.

Data collection took place over 28 months, which is equivalent to the same number of lunar cycles.

These were then subdivided into three lunar phases: full moon, half-moon and new moon.

The findings obtained in the study revealed that in general, nocturnal sleep duration around full moon compared to new moon reported an average decrease of five minutes (or a one per cent variant).

No other activity behaviours were substantially modified.

'Our study provides compelling evidence that the moon does not seem to influence people's behaviour,' said Dr Jean-Philippe Chaput, from the Eastern Ontario Research Institute.

Another study found healthy adults slept for 20 minutes less time during a full moon.

Historically, full moons have been linked to a lack of sleep because of the bright light that shines from them.

WHY ARE WE SO FASCINATED BY THE SUPERMOON?

Always surrounded by an aura of mystery, the moon and its possible influence over human behaviour has been object of ancestral fascination and mythical speculation for centuries.

Myth and folklore feature tales of werewolves being affected by phases of the moon.

'Folklore and even certain instances of occupational lore suggest that mental health issues or behaviours of humans and animals are affected by lunar phases,' Dr Chaput said.

'Whether there is science behind the myth or not, the moon mystery will continue to fascinate civilisations in the years to come,' he added.

One study found healthy adults slept for 20 minutes less time during a full moon. Historically, full moons have been linked to a lack of sleep because of the bright light that shines from them. Image of the supermoon by Albert Dros

HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH A SUPERMOON PERFECTLY

Bill Ingalls, Nasa's senior photographer

Bill Ingalls, Nasa's senior photographer, says composition is key.

'Don't make the mistake of photographing the moon by itself with no reference to anything,' he said.

'I've certainly done it myself, but everyone will get that shot.

'Instead, think of how to make the image creative—that means tying it into some land-based object.

'It can be a local landmark or anything to give your photo a sense of place.'

Is it hopeless to attempt a supermoon image with a smartphone camera? Ingalls says, it's all relative.

'For me, it would be maddening and frustrating - yet it may be a good challenge, actually. You're not going to get a giant moon in your shot, but you can do something more panoramic, including some foreground that's interesting.

'Think about being in an urban area where it's a little bit brighter.'

To get the right light balance of the moon on newer iPhones and other smartphones, 'Tap the screen and hold your finger on the object (in this case, the moon) to lock the focus.

'Then slide your finger up or down to darken or lighten the exposure.'

For digital SLR photography, Ingalls uses the daylight white balance setting for capturing moonlight, since sunlight is being reflected.


Recommended

17 busted in huge regional marijuana ring linked to murder in Alexandria

Related Categories:

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.


What Happens If I Can’t See Totality?

If you got clouded out or it’s daytime where you are at the time of the eclipse, you could still tune in to the show online via webcasts such as the Virtual Telescope Project and Slooh. And if you missed out this time around, the next total lunar eclipse will arrive on July 27 and will be visible from Asia, Australia, Africa, Europe, and South America, while the next supermoon eclipse will roll around in January 2019.

Andrew Fazekas, the Night Sky Guy, is the author of Star Trek: The Official Guide to Our Universe and host of NG Live! ‘Mankind to Mars’ presentations. Follow him on


Ask Ethan: How Prepared Are We For The Next Giant Solar Flare?

A solar flare, visible at the right of the image, occurs when magnetic field lines split apart and . [+] reconnect. When the flare is accompanied by a coronal mass ejection, and the magnetic field of the particles in the flare is anti-aligned with the magnetic field of Earth, a geomagnetic storm can occur, with grave potential for a natural disaster.

In 1859, the science of solar physics truly began with the largest eruption in recorded history: the Carrington event. Prior to this time, many people had observed the Sun: counting and monitoring sunspots, watching the Sun’s differential rotation rate, and making a potential link between sunspot activity, the Earth’s magnetic field, and observations of Earth’s aurora. But when astronomers Richard Carrington and Richard Hodgson noticed an enormous “white light flare” on the Sun on September 1, 1859, we realized that the Sun and the Earth were connected as never before. Just 17 hours later, Earth experienced the largest geomagnetic storm ever recorded, and the worldwide reports of its effects are now legendary. Knowing that these events happen regularly, are we now prepared for the inevitable? That’s what Erich Rathkamp wants to know, asking:

“a CME the size of the 1859 Carrington Event would, if not prepared for, effectively level the power grid of the United States. Can we actually provide a full day's worth of warning? Is a sufficient warning period actually significant enough to allow us to survive a Carrington class [event?] . if a Carrington class event were to be detected tomorrow, would we actually be able to survive it effectively?”

When it comes to looming natural disasters, the best thing we can do is to make sure we’re prepared. Here’s what the Sun has in store for us.

This snippet of the 'first light' image released by NSF's Inouye Solar Telescope shows the . [+] Texas-sized convective cells on the Sun's surface in higher resolution than ever before. For the first time, the features in between the cells, with resolutions as small as 30 km, can be viewed, shedding light on the processes occurring on the Sun's interior.

NATIONAL SOLAR OBSERVATORY / AURA / NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION / INOUYE SOLAR TELESCOPE

Normally, the Sun is a fairly quiet entity, outputting the same continuous amount of power to within 99.9% precision. It rotates about its axis, with a period of 25 days at its equator and 33 days at its poles, and also emits a steady stream of particles: the solar wind. Its central core reaches a maximum temperature of

15 million K, but the limb of its photosphere is a relatively cool

6,000 K, and that’s what radiates the energy we receive.

In addition, there’s a tenuous, very hot plasma separated from the photosphere: the Sun’s corona, which is hundreds of thousands of kelvin, and the Sun’s chaotic, irregular magnetic field frequently connects the two. Occasionally, however, the Sun develops sunspots, which are relatively cool regions on its photosphere. There are magnetic connections between the Sun, the corona, and even the other bodies in the Solar System, like Earth. Originating from a variety of processes, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and other magnetic reconnection events can occur, sending out a stream of energetic particles in a particular direction.

There Is Only One Other Planet In Our Galaxy That Could Be Earth-Like, Say Scientists

29 Intelligent Alien Civilizations May Have Already Spotted Us, Say Scientists

Why June 28th Is The Only ‘Perfect’ Day Of The Year

A solar flare from our Sun, which ejects matter out away from our parent star and into the Solar . [+] System, can trigger events like coronal mass ejections. Although the particles typically take

3 days to arrive, the most energetic events can reach Earth in under 24 hours, and can cause the most damage to our electronics and electrical infrastructure.

NASA’S SOLAR DYNAMICS OBSERVATORY / GSFC

Under normal circumstances, these particle streams are:

  • relatively slow-moving and low in energy, taking about 3 days to reach Earth’s distance from the Sun,
  • tend to miss the Earth, since they are fairly localized in space and the odds of striking Earth’s precise location are low,
  • and even if they do hit the Earth, our planet’s magnetic field tends to funnel them harmlessly away, perhaps except for down around the poles, where they can create the beautiful and spectacular aurorae.

Importantly, the particles themselves pose no danger to biological organisms on Earth’s surface, like us. But that doesn’t mean we’re immune to any ill effects that might ensue.

If everything lines up in exactly the wrong way, the outcome can be disastrous. If a solar flare causes a coronal mass ejection, and if that coronal mass ejection is high in energy, and if the particles from it head directly for Earth, and — one more thing — if the magnetic field of the ejected material and the magnetic field of Earth are anti-aligned, that’s a recipe for maximum damage to our planet: infrastructure, electronics, and a whole lot more. That’s almost certainly what happened 162 years ago, when the now-infamous Carrington event occurred.

Solar coronal loops, such as those observed by NASA's Transition Region And Coronal Explorer (TRACE) . [+] satellite here in 2005, follow the path of the magnetic field on the Sun. When these loops 'break' in just the right way, they can emit coronal mass ejections, which have the potential to impact Earth. A large CME or solar flare could create a new type of natural disaster: a 'Flaremageddon' scenario.

At about noon on September 1, 1859, Richard Carrington was tracking a large, irregular sunspot on the face of the Sun, when all of a sudden a brilliant flare occurred over it. Carrington described the flare as intensely bright, and as migrating from the left to the right of the sunspot over the span of about 5 minutes. Then, just as suddenly as the flare appeared, it disappeared entirely.

Some 18 hours later — about 3 to 4 times the speed of a typical solar flare — the largest geomagnetic storm in recorded history occurred. Aurorae were seen around the world miners in the United States were awoken by the bright lights, thinking it was dawn. In places where it was night, the aurorae were bright enough that newspapers could be read by its light. The “green curtain” of aurorae could be seen at many equatorial latitudes: Cuba, Hawaii, Mexico, and Colombia all reported them. And, most disconcertingly, our early electric systems, like the telegraph, experienced their own induced currents, causing shocks, starting fires, and tapping wildly, even when the systems themselves were disconnected entirely.

The northern lights (aurora borealis) from the Arctic Circle on March 14, 2016. The rare purple . [+] color can sometimes be seen near the poles, as a combination of blue and red emission lines from atoms can create this uncommon sight along with the more typical green. During the Carrington event, the green curtain could even be seen at equatorial latitudes.

Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images

The physics behind this is both simple and, if you think about it, terrifying. The charged particles that are emitted from the Sun and strike the Earth’s atmosphere aren’t themselves harmful, as the atmosphere has outstanding stopping power. But these particles, when they move in large numbers and at high speeds, will create their own magnetic fields, like any electrical current. If these magnetic fields are strong enough, they can substantially change the local magnetic field at Earth’s surface. And if you change the strength and/or direction of a magnetic field that passes through a loop or coil of wire, that changing magnetic field will induce an electric current.

I’ll say that again: if you have a loop or coil of wire where the magnetic field changes inside, it will create an induced electric current. Humanity knew about this law well prior to the Carrington event Faraday discovered it back in 1831. But the world has changed an awful lot since Carrington’s day, as power grids, power stations and substations, power transport infrastructure, and even residential, commercial, and industrial electronics are all full of loops and coils of wire. The induced currents, if we were to experience a Carrington-like event today, would literally be astronomical.

When charged particles are sent towards Earth from the Sun, they are bent by Earth's magnetic field. . [+] However, rather than being diverted away, some of those particles are funneled down along Earth's poles, where they can collide with the atmosphere and create aurorae. The largest events are driven by CMEs on the Sun, but will only cause spectacular displays on Earth if the ejected particles from the Sun have the correct component of their magnetic field anti-aligned with Earth's magnetic field.

The estimates for how much damage — if we do nothing to mitigate it — would occur have risen into 11-digit numbers worldwide. The power grids of most countries would be completely and effectively leveled. The top way to mitigate the effects of such a flare would be through increased grounding, so that the large currents that would otherwise flow through grid wires would instead flow directly into the Earth. Every time power companies attempt to do this, however, what winds up happening instead is that the conducting substance used for grounding (such as copper) is stolen for its material value.

As a result, we have under-grounded power stations and substations that would experience enormous induced currents, and that will typically lead to fires, followed by significant damage and destruction to our infrastructure. Not only are we talking about a multi-trillion dollar disaster (the damage to the United States alone has been estimated as high as $2.6 trillion), we’re talking about large swaths of the world’s population being left without power for extended periods of time: potentially for years. When you consider what happened in Texas just very recently when they got hit with freezing temperatures and many areas lost power, there’s the risk of an extremely large number of casualties for many people, electricity is necessary to sustain their lives.

An X-class solar flare erupted from the Sun’s surface in 2012: an event that was still much, much . [+] lower in brightness and total energy output than the 1859 Carrington event, but which could have still caused a catastrophic geomagnetic storm if it had been accompanied by a coronal mass ejection whose magnetic field had the right (or wrong, depending on your point of view) orientation.

NASA/SOLAR DYNAMICS OBSERVATORY (SDO) VIA GETTY IMAGES

The Carrington event was not some massive outlier that only occurs once every few million years, either. Many solar flares have struck Earth, some of which have caused localized damage to the power grid. A 1972 set of solar storms caused a widespread disruption of electrical and telecommunications grids, satellite disruptions, and even caused the accidental detonation of naval mines in Vietnam. A 1989 geomagnetic storm caused a complete outage of Quebec’s electricity transmission system. And a 2005 solar storm knocked the GPS network offline. These events may have been damaging, but they were only warning shots compared to what nature inevitably has in store for us.

In 2012, the Sun finally — for the first time since we’ve developed the tools capable of monitoring it sufficiently — emitted a solar flare that was likely as energetic as the one that caused 1859’s Carrington event. It occurred on July 23, and that’s what saved us. The flare occurred in the same plane as Earth’s orbit, but missed us by the equivalent of nine days. Similar to the Carrington event, the particles reached Earth’s distance from the Sun in just 17 hours. Had Earth been in the way, the global damage done could have crested the $10 trillion mark, not to mention the immeasurable loss of life that would have ensued.

Sunlight, streaming in through the open telescope dome at the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope . [+] (DKIST), strikes the primary mirror and has the photons without useful information reflected away, while the useful ones are directed towards the instruments mounted elsewhere on the telescope.

Yet most of us don’t think of solar storms the same way we think of hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, or volcanic eruptions. In today’s modern, electronics-reliant world, however, we absolutely should be thinking of this in terms of disaster preparedness. With the new advent — as of only last year — of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, we’re finally prepared to get some significant warning when a geomagnetic storm of disastrous proportions may occur.

This solar telescope behaves as a Sun-measuring magnetometer, capable of measuring the magnetic field on the Sun and in the solar corona, allowing us to know whether an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection has exactly the wrong magnetic field for our planet at the moment. If one is detected, we have a chance to take large-scale mitigations, which include:

    having power companies cut off the currents in their electrical grids, which takes gradual ramping-down on the timeframe of approximately

When a coronal mass ejection appears to extend in all directions relatively equally from our . [+] perspective, a phenomenon known as an annular CME, that's an indication that it's likely headed right for our planet. A flare that is oriented off to the side would instead be more likely to miss our planet, which is what we should all hope for.

The fastest solar flare ever to travel from the Sun to the Earth made the journey in just 14.6 hours, meaning that we’d ideally like our response time to be faster than that. The greatest danger, however, comes in being completely unprepared, which is fairly close to the current state of affairs. We have the beginnings — with not only the Inouye telescope, but the Parker Solar Probe and our Sun-monitoring satellites located at the L1 Lagrange point in space — of the infrastructure necessary to detect and measure these events, but the requisite mitigations are not in place at all.

In a worst-case scenario, the flare would arrive during a cold snap affecting the Northern Hemisphere during its winter. It would knock power offline for the majority of the developed world, leaving billions without heat or power. The storage and distribution of food and water might be knocked out, leaving billions to fend for themselves. Our satellite systems could be knocked offline as well any system that relies on computerized maneuvers to avoid collisions could instead start a catastrophic chain-reaction of satellite impacts in low-Earth orbit. If we fail to prepare, a single event could set us back decades as a civilization.

The collision of two satellites can create hundreds of thousands of pieces of debris, most of which . [+] are very small but very fast-moving: up to

10 km/s. If enough satellites are in orbit, this debris could set off a chain reaction, rendering the environment around Earth practically impassable.

So what do we do to prepare? It starts with early detection: ground-based and space-based observations of the Sun and of the particles traveling from the Sun to Earth. That would, ideally, mean a network of heliophysics observatories on Earth, at the L1 Lagrange point in space, and in close proximity to the Sun itself. We should prepare power grids for shutdowns and disconnections that take fewer than

14 hours to execute, and increase grounding at stations and substations. We should create mandatory “safe mode” orbits for satellites, so that electronics disruptions won’t be catastrophic, and create emergency plans for citizens in the event that a Carrington-level flare occurs and heads towards Earth.

In a very real sense, the danger is definitely coming it’s only a question of when. If we do nothing to prepare, when “the big one” hits, we can look forward to trillions of dollars worth of infrastructure damage and, quite possibly, an enormous number of deaths. But if we can prepare our power grid, distribution system, and global citizens to be ready for the inevitable, we truly have the capacity to effectively survive even a Carrington-type event. We just need to make the effort and the investment in prevention. Otherwise, we’ll be paying for it many times over, for years or even decades to come.


What’s a Supermoon and Just How Super Is It?

The term “supermoon” has been popping up a lot in the news and on social media over the past few years. But what are supermoons, why do they occur and how can they be used as an educational tool. Plus, are they really that super?

Lessons About the Moon

Explore our collection of standards-aligned lessons for grades 1-12.

How it Works

As the Moon orbits Earth, it goes through phases, which are determined by its position relative to Earth and the Sun. When the Moon lines up on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun, we see a full moon. The new moon phase occurs when the Moon and the Sun are lined up on the same side of Earth.

The Moon doesn’t orbit in a perfect circle. Instead, it travels in an ellipse that brings the Moon closer to and farther from Earth in its orbit. The farthest point in this ellipse is called the apogee and is about 405,500 kilometers from Earth on average. Its closest point is the perigee, which is an average distance of about 363,300 kilometers from Earth. During every 27-day orbit around Earth, the Moon reaches both its apogee and perigee.

Full moons can occur at any point along the Moon’s elliptical path, but when a full moon occurs at or near the perigee, it looks slightly larger and brighter than a typical full moon. That’s what the term “supermoon" refers to.

What makes a supermoon super? Watch this short animation to find out. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Because supermoon is not an official astronomical term, there is no definition about just how close to perigee the full moon has to be in order to be called “super." Generally, supermoon is used to refer to a full moon 90 percent or closer to perigee. (When the term supermoon was originally coined, it was also used to describe a new moon in the same position, but since the new moon isn’t easily visible from Earth, it’s rarely used in that context anymore.)

A more accurate and scientific term is “perigee syzygy.” Syzygy is the alignment of three celestial bodies, in this case the Sun, Moon and Earth. But that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as easily as supermoon.

Why It’s Important

Make a Moon Phases Calendar

Use this Moon "decoder wheel" to see where and where to view the Moon all year!

As the largest and brightest object in the night sky, the Moon is a popular focal point for many amateur and professional astronomers pointing their telescopes to the sky, and the source of inspiration for everyone from aspiring space scientists to engineers to artists.

The supermoon is a great opportunity for teachers to connect concepts being taught in the classroom to something students will undoubtedly be hearing about. Students can practice writing skills in a Moon journal, study Moon phases and apply their math skills to observing the supermoon. (Click here for related activities from JPL’s Education Office.)

Incorrect and misleading information about the Moon (and supermoons) can lead to confusion and frustration. It’s important to help students understand what to expect and be able to identify inaccurate info.

What to Expect

As with anything that moves closer to the person viewing it, the supermoon will appear bigger than an average full moon. At its largest, it can appear 14% larger in diameter than the smallest full moon. Keep in mind that a 14% increase in the apparent size of something that can be covered with a fingernail on an outstretched arm won’t seem significantly bigger. Unlike side-by-side comparisons made in science and everyday life, students will not have seen the full moon for at least 30 days, and won’t see another for at least 30 more days. Comparing a supermoon with a typical full moon from memory is very difficult.

While they make for great photographs, images like this one that rely on a special photographic technique aren't an accurate representation of what the supermoon will look like to the naked eye. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls | Full image and caption on Flickr

A supermoon looks bigger than a "micromoon" (when the full moon is at apogee) because it's about 40,000 kilometers closer to Earth on average. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

It's nearly impossible to compare the apparent size of the supermoon with a micromoon from memory, but when seen side-by-side as in this graphic, it becomes clear. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Leading up to a supermoon, there are often misleading images on popular media. A technique that involves using a long telephoto lens to take photographs of the Moon next to buildings or other objects makes the Moon look huge compared with its surroundings. This effect can make for great photographs, but it has nothing to do with the supermoon. In fact, these photos can be taken during any Moon phase, but they will likely be used in stories promoting the supermoon.

There are also images that have been edited to inaccurately dramatize the size of the supermoon. Both of these can lead students, and adults, taking pictures with their cell phone to think that they’ve done something wrong or just aren’t cut out for observing the sky, which isn’t true!

Your students may have noticed that when they see a full moon low on the horizon, it appears huge and then seems to shrink as it rises into the night sky. This can happen during any full moon. Known as the Moon Illusion, it has nothing to do with a supermoon. In fact, scientists still aren’t sure what causes the Moon Illusion.

Brightness

The full moon is bright and the supermoon is even brighter! Sunlight reflecting off the Moon during its full phase is bright enough to cast shadows on the ground. During a supermoon, that brightness can increase up to 30 percent as a result of the Moon being closer to Earth, a phenomenon explained by the inverse square law. (Introduce students to the inverse square law with this space-related math lesson for 6th- through 8th-graders.) As with the size of the Moon, students may not remember just how bright the last full moon was or easily be able to compare it. Powerful city lights can also diminish how bright a supermoon seems. Viewing it away from bright overhead street lights or outside the city can help viewers appreciate the increase in brightness.

What Not to Expect

A supermoon will not cause extreme flooding, earthquakes, fires, volcanic eruptions, severe weather, nor tsunamis, despite what incorrect and non-scientific speculators might suggest. Encourage your students to be good scientists and research this for themselves.

Teach It

The excitement and buzz surrounding a supermoon is a great opportunity to teach a variety of Moon topics with these lessons from JPL’s Education Office:

  • *NEW* Observing the Moon (Grades K-6) – Students identify the Moon’s location in the sky and record their observations over the course of the moon-phase cycle in a journal.
  • *NEW* Measuring the Supermoon (Grades 5-12) – Students take measurements of the Moon during its full phase over multiple Moon cycles to compare and contrast results.
  • *NEW* Moon Phases Calendar and Calculator – Like a decoder wheel for the Moon, this calendar will show you where and when to see the Moon and every moon phase throughout the year!
  • *NEW* Look at the Moon! Journaling Project – Draw what you see in a Moon Journal and see if you can predict the moon phase that comes next. (Grades 1-6) – Students learn about the phases of the Moon by acting them out. In 30 minutes, they will act out one complete Moon cycle. (Grades 1-6) – Whip up a Moon-like crater with baking ingredients as a demonstration for students. (Grades 6-8) – Using an assortment of playground and toy balls, students will measure diameter, calculate distance and scale, and build a model of the Earth-Moon system.

Explore More

  • Learn more about the Moon on NASA's Moon website.
  • See where NASA is heading next on NASA's Moon to Mars website.
  • Imagine a future in space with NASA's Moon to Mars posters.

For the record: This story originally stated a supermoon would be visible in January and February 2018. The two supermoons of 2018 are both in January.


7. A ‘Dark Sky Country’ in the South Pacific will get the best view

Though anywhere in the Pacific Ocean is deal for this eclipse, the centerpoint is very close to tiny Niue—a coral atoll in the South Pacific, population 1,500.

A standalone island in the center of a triangle of nations made up of Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands—2,400km northeast of New Zealand and the eastern side of the international dateline—Niue has International Dark Sky Community status for its western rim and International Dark Sky Sanctuary status for its central core and east coast.


Just A Perigee Full Moon

In astronomical terms, a Supermoon can occur when a full or new moon occurs at or near the perigee of the moon&aposs orbit. In either case, the astronomer will usually describe the event as a new moon perigee or a full moon perigee. It is important to note that the timing of the perigee and stage of the moon usually is a within a few hours. Supermoons occur all the time and do vary in the distance from earth. With a full moon perigee, the moon may appear to be as much as 14 per cent larger, while brightness can increase by as much as 30%, depending on atmospheric conditions, of course.

Just to place things in perspective, the November 2016 Supermoon was the largest since January 1948 and will not be surpassed in size until November 2034. Between November 2016 and November 2034, there will be numerous Supermoons, all of which, will be smaller in size than the one that just occurred in November 2016. In fact, another Supermoon is due occur to occur the very next time the moon circles around the earth. The date for this celestial event is December 18, 2016.


Full Moon for April 2021

April’s full Moon rises on the night of Monday, April 26. Traditionally called the Pink Moon, this full Moon will also be a spectacular supermoon! Here’s everything you should know about the Moon this month, including facts, folklore, and Moon phase dates.

When to See the Full Moon in April 2021

Venture outside on the night of Monday, April 26, to catch a glimpse of April’s full Pink Moon. This full Moon—which is the first of two supermoons this year—will be visible after sunset and reach peak illumination at 11:33 P.M. EDT.

For the best view of this lovely spring Moon, find an open area and watch as the Moon rises just above the horizon, at which point it will appear its biggest and take on a golden hue! (Find local Moon rise and set times here.)

Super Pink Moon: The First Supermoon of the Year

(Note: Before you get your hopes up, this “Super Pink Moon” won’t actually look “super pink”—or any hue of pink, really. The Moon will be its usual golden color near the horizon and fade to a bright white as it glides overhead!)

This year, we’ll be treated to two supermoons, with the first occurring on April 26 and the second on May 26. Supermoons are said to be bigger and brighter than your average full Moon.

Just how big and how bright, exactly? On average, supermoons are about 7% bigger and about 15% brighter than a typical full Moon. However, unless you were to see a regular full Moon and a supermoon side by side in the sky, the difference is very, very difficult to notice! Learn more about supermoons here.

Why Is It Called the Pink Moon?

The full Moon names used by The Old Farmer’s Almanac come from a number of places, including Native American, Colonial American, and European sources. Traditionally, each full Moon name was applied to the entire lunar month in which it occurred, not only to the full Moon.

The Pink Moon

Although we wish this name had to do with the color of the Moon, the reality is not quite as mystical or awe-inspiring. In truth, April’s full Moon often corresponded with the early springtime blooms of a certain wildflower native to eastern North America: Phlox subulata—commonly called creeping phlox or moss phlox—which also went by the name “moss pink.”

Thanks to this seasonal association, this full Moon came to be called the “Pink” Moon!


Pink moss phlox, or “moss pink,” lends its nickname to the April Moon.

Alternative April Moon Names

In April Moon names, references to spring abound! Breaking Ice Moon (Algonquin) and Moon When the Streams Are Again Navigable (Dakota) reference the melting ice and increased mobility of the early spring season, while Budding Moon of Plants and Shrubs (Tlingit) and Moon of the Red Grass Appearing (Oglala) speak to the plant growth that will soon kick into high gear.

Other names refer to the reappearance of certain animals, including Moon When the Ducks Come Back (Lakota), Moon When the Geese Lay Eggs (Dakota), and Frog Moon (Cree). Along the same vein, Sucker Moon (Anishinaabe) notes the time to harvest sucker fish, which return to streams or lake shallows to spawn. According to legend, now is the time when this fish comes back from the spirit world to purify bodies of water and the creatures living in them. (This name may also be applied to the February Moon, to honor the sacrifice of the sucker fish in order to feed the Anishinaabe peoples, traditionally helping them to survive the winter.)

Moon Phases for April 2021

All dates and times are EDT . See our Moon Phase Calendar to customize times to your location.

April Moon Phase Dates and Times

April Moon Facts and Folklore

A full Moon in April brings frost. If the full Moon rises pale, expect rain.

  • On April 20, 1972, the lunar module of Apollo XVI landed on the moon with astronauts John Young and Charles Duke aboard. Thomas Mattingly remained in orbit around the moon aboard the command module.
  • One day later, on April 21, 1972, Apollo XVI astronauts John Young and Charles Duke drove an electric car on the surface of the moon. It’s still up there along with some expensive tools and some film that they forgot.
  • According to folklore, the period from the full Moon through the last quarter of the Moon is the best time for killing weeds, thinning, pruning, mowing, cutting timber, and planting below-ground crops. Read more about Gardening by the Moon.

April Best Days 2021

Below are the Best Days for activities, based on the Moon’s sign and phase in April.

For Planting:

For Setting Eggs:

For Fishing:

Full Pink Moon Video

Each month, we will explain the traditional names of the full Moon along with some interesting and insightful Moon facts. Click below to watch the video.