The full moon this week is the biggest and the brightest full moon of the year – a supermoon. The moon orbits the earth in an oval path, so the distance between the earth and the moon varies a bit. The average distance from the moon to the earth is 238,855 miles. When the moon is farthest away – that’s called apogee and when the moon is closest to the earth, that’s called perigee.

At perigee (the left side of the moon in the picture above), the moon looks 14% bigger and nearly 30% brighter than a full moon at apogee, when it’s farthest away.

Full moon distance at apogee and perigee

This year, the closest the moon comes to the earth is today – July 13 – at 5 am, when it’s 221,994 miles away. The full moon comes just 9 hours and 38 minutes later at 2:38 pm. The moon rises in the ESE in July and sets in the WSW.

The full moon coinciding with perigee will produce larger high and low ocean tides, which might cause some nearshore flooding. Fortunately, the earth is relatively free of tropical storm activity at this time.

In some years there are three supermoons, while other years have four (such as this year) and, in a few cases, (as in the years 2029 through 2033) there can be as many as five. The full moon of August 11, 2022 will also be a supermoon. A full moon at apogee is called a “minimoon”

It takes 1.3 seconds for the light from the moon to reach the earth. On the moon, you’d weight approx. 1/6th of what you do on earth. There’s no air on the moon, so the sky would be black even when the sun is shining. Think how high you could jump in the moon – or how far you could hit a baseball. The full moon of July is called the “Buck Moon”. (pics. from NASA JPL and David Behrens).