Tonight we will see the the biggest Super Moon in our skies since 1948. But what does this mean? The moon will appear about 14% bigger and 30% brighter compared with the smallest full moons. This means that tonight is the best time to embrace your inner werewolf and howl at the moon.
Why Is This Happening?
The moon’s orbit around the earth is not in fact circular, but elliptical. This means that there are times when the moon is at its furthest point from Earth, known as the apogee, and its closest point, or perigee. Then there are the more well known phases of the moon, that change how we see the moon, as a whole or crescent. These are known as full, crescent, waxing, and waning gibbous. These are determined by which side of the sun-facing side of the moon faces the Earth. When these two coincide perfectly we get a super moon.
How Does a Full or Super Moon Affect Behavior?
There are countless enduring myths and theories about whether a full moon affects behavior. The term lunatic is coined from luna, or moon, but does it really make a difference? Disappointingly, much of the science on this suggests that these are just myths. There doesn’t seem to be any strong link between behavior and the cycle of the moon, and a Super Moon is no different. There is no link between Emergency Room admittance, surgery outcomes, psychiatric visits or epilepsy, so it seems the effect on mood is overstated.
Why Does This Myth Exist?
Historians and myth busters think that the reason we link the moon to behavior might be related to the light. In pre industrial society, before our towns and cities were perpetually lit, people might have stayed up later. This may have led to people behaving a bit more wild. Another theory is that the light from the moon might have led to insomnia, leading to associated mental symptoms with sleeplessness.
Are Animals Affected By The Super Moon?
There is some evidence to suggest that there is an increase in animal injuries during the full moon. One study found that injuries were 23% higher for cats and 28% higher for dogs on days surrounding full moons. There is no reason suggested for this though – mysterious! Certainly some animals do act differently according to the lunar cycle. Lions tend to change their hunting behavior according to the full moon, and dogs seem to bite people with greater regularity.
When Is Best To See The Super Moon?
The best time to see the super moon will be either very early in the night or near dawn – this is because an optical illusion makes it appear larger when it is closer to the horizon. Whenever you choose to see it, it can be best viewed away from urban areas and light pollution. So happy moon gazing!