Eastern Kentucky University professor explains Saturday’s ‘mini moon’

Republished from WEKU.

If Saturday’s full moon looks a little smaller, there’s a reason. It’s called the snow moon, or mini moon. Mark Pitts is an assistant professor of Physics in the Department of Physics, Geosciences and Astronomy at Eastern Kentucky University. He said the bottom line is that our moon’s orbit, like nearly all orbits in our solar system, is not a perfect circle.

“A mini moon, basically is the state where the moon is at apogee, which is the most distant point in its orbit from the earth. And so that means that it will have the smallest appearance in the sky that any full moon can have.”

Pitts said the apparent size of the moon actually varies every night.

“The overall size of the moon will change by about 10%, between the moon being farthest and the moon being closest to the earth. So you could maybe say it’s about 5% below average size, for the mini moon.”

Pitts says there’s another moon-related optical illusion many people notice: when the moon is near the horizon, it looks much bigger than when it’s high in the sky. He’s asked his Astronomy students to make regular observations during this lunar cycle.

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Originally published by WEKU.

Republished with permission.