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All About The Moon At Apogee

August 26, 2021    7 min read

The moon's orbit isn't actually circular and that is why the distance between the Moon and Earth varies throughout its regular monthly rotation.

The average distance is about 382,900 kilometers from the center of the Moon to the Earth's center. The main reason why the orbit of the moon is not a perfect circle is that there are a lot of tidal, or gravitational, forces that impact the moon.

The Moon's orbit around Earth is elliptical. Each month, the orbit of the moon carries it to apogee, which is the moon's farthest point from Earth nearly (363,300 km) – and then, some two weeks later, to perigee nearly (405,500 km) – the moon's closest point to Earth in its monthly rotation.

Source: timeanddate.com

The Science Behind Apogee & Perigee

The phases of the moon and the date of its approach to its perigee or apogee are not synced. When a Full Moon or New Moon occurs close to the Moon's perigee, it is known as a Supermoon. On the other hand, when apogee coincides with a Full Moon or New Moon, it is known as a Micromoon.

Note: These are not known as the official astronomical phases.

What is the Moon Illusion?

The Moon goes through the 2 apsides (extreme points) –perigee and apogee about once a month. It takes the Moon around 27.55455 days to travel from apogee to perigee and is called the anomalistic month.

It must not be confused with the synodic month, which is longer and is the time taken by the Moon to make one revolution around Earth, from New Moon through all the Moon phases to the next New Moon.

Apogean and Perigean Tides

The biggest variation between high and low tide is around Full Moon and New Moon, known as spring tides or king tides. Because during these phases of the Moon, the gravitational forces of the Moon and the Sun merge to pull the ocean’s water in an identical direction.

Perigean spring tides have around 5 cm larger differences than regular spring tides, while apogean spring tides have around 5 cm smaller differences than normal spring tides.

Watch The Moon At Apogee on 30th August

Do you think you will be able to spot the difference between a “Micromoon” and a “Supermoon”? The difference in the size between a “Micromoon” and a “Supermoon” is hardly evident to the naked eye. So you won’t notice a difference in size.

For some comprehensive comparisons between “Supermoons” and “Micromoons”, you can go to the NASA website.

If you're someone who loves to read about planetary movements and our solar system, head to the Practically App and discover a hands-on learning experience via lifelike simulations, 3D videos, and AR experiences.

We will be back with amazing insights on more such celestial events. Till then, stay tuned.

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