Sky-gazers catch rare glimpse of supermoon despite cloud canopy
- Credit: Nigel Pickover
Sky-gazers have enjoyed the rare sight of a supermoon, with the Moon appearing bigger and brighter than usual as it came closer to Earth than it has in decades.
But sightings proved scarce in Norfolk as enthusiasts had to contend with a thick covering of cloud.
Glimpses were captured by eagle-eyed photographers at Thornham Harbour and in Norwich as the canopy of cloud parted just long enough to reveal the phenomenon.
The event, described as 'undeniably beautiful' by American space agency Nasa, will not be matched until the moon makes a similar approach in 2034.
The moon's proximity to the horizon caused an optical illusion known as the 'low-hanging moon' effect, where it can be measured against familiar objects such as trees and houses.
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Earlier on Monday the gap between the Earth and the Moon closed to its shortest point, known as the perigee – a distance of 221,525 miles.
The last time the Moon was this close to the Earth was in 1948.
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The reason the distance varies is the moon's slightly elliptical orbit. On average, it is 238,900 miles from the Earth, but at the perigee it is about 5pc closer. At its furthest orbital point from the Earth, the apogee, it is 5pc more distant.
Perigee and apogee distances vary from month to month due to several factors, such as whether the long axis of the lunar orbit is pointed towards the sun.
Yesterday's event was the biggest and best in a series of three supermoons. The first was on October 16; the third is due on December 14.
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