Demystifying Science Science

What is a minimoon?

A minimoon is the smallest full moon in any given year. This year it happened to fall on the night of June 9. It’s the opposite of a full moon, or when the full moon coincides with perigee — that point in the moon’s orbit when it is closest to earth. On such occasions, the moon appears somewhat larger than normal because of its closeness to earth.

However the moon on June 9 was the opposite of this. It was a full moon that nearly coincided with apogee, the moon’s farthest point from earth. In the very strictest sense, the Friday moon wasn’t at its farthest point from earth. That moment actually occurred on Thursday (June 8) at 22:30 Indian time when the moon was 252,526 miles (406,401 kilometres) from earth. However, it wasn’t a “full moon” at that time. The minimoon often returns about one month and 18 days later with each passing year, meaning that, in 2018, the year’s smallest full moon will show up on July 27. In 2019, it will fall on September 14, and in 2020, on October 31. It frequently recurs in periods of 14 lunar months (14 returns to full moon), a period of about one year and 48 days.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 2:14:25 PM |

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