For the common man on the dusty streets of India, the cosmos does not mean much but things are fast changing. With the spread of internet and cable TV, celestial events like the supermoon or the blue moon get comprehensive coverage with the subject simplified to be understood easily by the common man. The only natural satellite of the planet was at its closest on November 14 at 7.22 pm. People made a beeline to locations where they could get an unhindered view of the spectacle. A space party was organized by the Association of Friends of Astronomy (AFA) at the junta House terrace.
Deep social and cultural myths often stop people watching extremely rare cosmic spectacles like an annular solar eclipse or lunar eclipse. A universe is an incredible place, and its vastness and beauty must be appreciated with a rational and scientific approach. Events like the Supermoon must be enjoyed without falling prey to superstition and false beliefs.
The Moon circles the Earth in an elliptical orbit which makes it at times much closer than the usual times. When the moon is closest to earth, it looks 14% bigger and 30% brighter. Hence the term supermoon, which refers to a position when the Earth’s satellite is at its closest, during its monthly sojourn around the planet. However, still the moon is 3,61,524 kilometers away from the Earth, and the difference in size or the brightness is not discernable by the human eye. It is interesting to note that the Moon was farthest from its mother planet on October 31. The next such coincidence will happen only in 2034.
The term supermoon was coined some three decades ago by an astrologer Richard Nolle. He also had predicted tsunamis, cyclones, and other related atmospheric disturbances during this event. However, the term attained wide popularity only from 2011 when it was widely reported in the media and the uniqueness was explained to the public.