The July 2014 full moon that falls Saturday will be a Supermoon, the phenomenon that means the full moon is as close as it gets to Earth, and will be the first of three visible this year.
As online social media lights up with admonitions to check out the moon that may appear a little larger than it usually does in the sky, NBC News pointed out that the “real” Supermoon will actually appear in August
, on the 10th at 2:11 p.m. (ET), to be exact.
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To understand why the July 12 moon, and another supermoon on Sept. 9, aren’t really supermoons means digging into the science. NBC explains that people "play fast and loose" with the supermoon definition.
The point when the moon is closest to the Earth every month, at 221,765 miles away, is called perigee. When the full moon falls within the perigee time, it is a supermoon. But people seemed to have adapted the supermoon definition to stretch to a full moon that is within 24 hours of a perigee — which is accurate for those upcoming July and September moons.
The Aug. 10 moon is actually the only one where the full moon is right on time for a perigee.
But even those who eschew strict definitions and just like to look at the full moon may be a little disappointed by the hype surrounding the term "supermoon."
“A full moon at its closest point to Earth definitely will be big and bright,” the Brevard Times wrote.
“But it won’t look much, if any, different than a ‘normal’ full moon and will not have any readily observable effect on our planet except perhaps slightly higher tides.”
But even the practical scientific observations of the Times and NBC don’t stop people from waxing poetic and getting excited over Saturday’s supermoon.
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