Tags: smallest | full | moon | minimoon | 2014

Smallest Full Moon: 'Minimoon' of 2014 Appeared Wednesday Night

Thursday, 16 Jan 2014 11:41 AM

By Michael Mullins

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The smallest full moon of 2014 appeared in the night sky on Wednesday.

Often referred to as a "minimoon," the full moon appears smaller because it was at its apogee — farthest point from the Earth — during its cycle around the Blue Planet Wednesday night. In contrast, a "supermoon" is scheduled to occur on Aug. 10 of this year, when the moon will be at its lunar perigee — closest to the Earth — during its orbit, Space.com reported.

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Of course, the sizes of the "minimoon" and "supermoon" are only distinguishable when the two are placed side by side and captured with a telescope equipped camera. The difference in diameter is just 14 percent, which reportedly is not visible to the naked eye.

According to Space.com, a large part of the moon's size as it appears to us depends on the various angles in which sunlight reflects off it during its orbit around the earth.

Throughout the year, the moon's relation to the sun takes on varied appearances in the night sky. When it lies directly in the path of the sun, it is called a "new moon." Once it is a quarter way around the Earth, it becomes known as a "first quarter" moon and is lit from the right side. In the moon's last orbital cycle, it is referred to as a "last quarter," in which it is lit from the left side.

In addition to the lighting and distance issues that affect how the moon is viewed from the Earth, there is also an optical illusion known as "the moon illusion," Space.com noted.

Through "the moon illusion," the moon appears larger when people view it on the horizon and smaller when it is in the sky overhead, according to Space.com, despite the fact that there is no actual change in size.

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