A statue in front of the Holy Cross church in Warsaw, Poland, guides viewers toward the August 2014 supermoon. (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)
An antenna faces the August 2014 supermoon in Longueuil, Quebec, Canada. (Flickr user Elf-8)
A composite picture shows the August 2014 supermoon rising over Castle Fylon in Greece. (Credit and Copyright: Anthony Ayiomamitis)
Look out, moon! The August 2014 supermoon waits to be snapped up by a neon lobster in Jiangsu, China. (SIPA Asia/ZUMA Wire)
A nearly full moon shines over a wire sculpture in Bad Zwischenahn, Germany, the night before the August 2014 supermoon. (Ingo Wagner/dpa)
The August 2014 supermoon hovers in the Boston skyline near sunset. (Flickr user Bill Damon)
The August 2014 supermoon rises over the haze in Hebei China. (SIPA Asia/ZUMA Wire)
A statue is silhouetted against the August 2014 supermoon in Moscow, Russia. (ITAR-TASS/ Sergei Savostyanov)
A girl and a dog frolic in the light of the August 2014 supermoon in Madrid, Spain. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
Sporting a reddish tinge near the horizon, the August 2014 supermoon rises over Istanbul, Turkey. (Xinhua/Lu Zhe)
Deer graze by the light of the August 2014 supermoon in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. (Ian MacLellan/Demotix/Corbis)
The lighted domes of the Griffith Park Observatory in downtown Los Angeles are no match for the August 2014 supermoon. (Jonathan Alcorn/ZUMA Wire)
The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio in Greece sits serenely under the August 2014 supermoon. (Nicolas Koutsokostas/Demotix/Corbis)

Inspiring Photos of the Biggest, Brightest Supermoon of 2014

Feast your eyes on these snapshots from around the world


Did the moon hit your eye like a big pizza pie last night? It wasn’t amore – it was a so-called supermoon. This increasingly popular term refers to a full or new moon at perigee, when our natural satellite gets closest to Earth during its orbit around the planet. The effect makes the full moon look bigger and brighter in the sky and can even create larger than normal tides.

The moon’s orbit does not trace a perfect circle. It follows a slightly elongated, egg-shaped orbit that also has Earth a bit off from center. That means the moon swings a tiny bit closer to us at some point each month. A supermoon happens when this close approach coincides with one of two lunar phases: full, when the moon is between Earth and the sun, or new, when it’s on the opposite side of Earth from the sun.

On average there are four to six supermoons a year, and this year, the fifth and final supermoon of 2014 will come in September. But the exact distance between Earth and the moon varies with each orbit, and the full supermoon that happened this past weekend was the closest one of 2014, bringing the lunar orb a mere 221,765 miles from Earth.

To the unaided eye, spotting a supermoon can be tricky – the difference in the size of the disc compared to a normal full moon is relatively minor. But any full moon is a glorious sight, and excitement over the supermoon phenomenon is a great chance to pull out some cameras and showcase our celestial neighbor.

About Victoria Jaggard

Victoria Jaggard is the science editor for Smithsonian.com. Her writing has appeared in Chemical & Engineering News, National Geographic, New Scientist and elsewhere.

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