Saturday, November 12, 2016


The supermoon of 2012 rises over Entiat, Wash., 
 in this photo by skywatcher Tim McCord snapped on May 5, 2012.
By now most of you have heard of the upcoming "supermoon". While it is debatable if this phenomena deserves the moniker "super", I am always happy to have people be inspired to go out and look up at the heavens (as Abraham was commanded in this week's Torah reading). 

As Neil deGrasse Tyson has said,  "If you have a 16-inch pizza, would you call that a super pizza compared with a 15-inch pizza?" 

So what is a supermoon? Since the Moon's orbit is an ellipse, there is a day every month when the Moon is a bit closer to Earth and a day (about 2 weeks later) when it is farthest. If the closest approach happens to coincide with the full Moon phase, the media has started calling it a supermoon.

For a casual observer it will be hard to detect that the Moon is any larger or brighter than the last time you saw a full Moon, However, all Moons look especially large (and pretty) when they are near the horizon during rising or setting. This is due to the famous Moon Illusion  and has nothing to do with the actual distance to Moon. So, please do go out and check out the beautiful rising full Moon on Monday night! It  will be rising about 5:15 pm here in Israel. You will need to find a spot with a clear view to the eastern horizon. Probably the best view in Efrat will be from Zayit or Te'ena.

In case you miss it on Monday, fear not as the Moon will appear almost full for a day or 2 on either side of Monday. Just keep in mind the it rises about 50 minutes later each night.

Keep looking up!


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