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Under the Light of the Supermoon

Under the Light of the Supermoon

(Main photo by Donna Bryant, Member of The Parklands)

On Monday, November 14, 2016, the proverbial man in the moon was in the company of about 200 park-goers as they hiked, sipped hot chocolate, and peered through telescopes during the Super Moon Night Hike at The Parklands. Interpretive Rangers Whit, Curtis, and Shannon led hikers along Black Willow trail to observe the night using our human senses. Several people from the Louisville Astronomical Society set up their telescopes and guided curious eyes skyward, while Highview Baptist Church provided (the best) hot chocolate.

 

The supermoon is a fascinating astronomical occurrence. But before we talk super, let’s back up to get everyone on the same page. Because of a variety of gravitational pulls, the moon’s orbit around earth is not a perfect circle, causing the distance between our planet and our nearest neighbor to vary. One face of the moon is always illuminated by the sun, and as the moon orbits around the earth we slowly see more and more of this illuminated face, until it becomes the complete glowing white circle we call the full moon. Then it begins to wane, slowly disappearing until once again the illuminated surface is facing the sun, and the surface facing earth is dark; we call this the new moon.

 

Now let’s layer on some more info. As the moon’s orbit changes, the moon moves closer to or farther from the earth. When the moon is farthest from earth, it is at its ‘apogee’; when it is closest, it is at its ‘perigee’.

Hike participants pause to enjoy the view. Photo by John Nation
More Photos
 

So, perigee, apogee. New moon, full moon. What does it all mean? The supermoon is when the moon is both at its perigee AND full at the SAME TIME. On November 16, we earthlings experienced the closest full moon since 1948. If you missed this month’s astronomical awesomeness, a smaller supermoon will appear in December, but your next chance for a truly super supermoon viewing will be November 25, 2034.

 

Mark your calendars!

 

Sources:

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2016/novembers-spectacular-supermoon

http://www.space.com/34714-supermoon-science-nasa-explains-closest-full-moon.html

http://www.space.com/34660-closest-supermoon-full-moon-in-69-years-forecast.html

About the Author

Picture of Sarah Daley

Sarah Daley

Sarah is a native Louisvillian with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, and a passion for using design to teach and inspire. Sarah recently returned from Chicago, where she worked at the Field Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry. As Interpretive Designer, she develops in-park experiences that showcase the animals, plants, people, and landscapes of The Parklands. Sarah started at The Parklands in March of 2016, and is thrilled to be involved with such an amazing group. A lover of travel, Sarah is always ready to pack a suitcase and head off on the next adventure.

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