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It makes a nice photo, but is the ‘supermoon’ really that special?

WATCH ABOVE: Supermoons can appear 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter in the night sky. But, really, how special is this astrological event? Emily Mertz hears from a local astronomer.

Perhaps you’ve already heard the hype: an extra special supermoon has come closer to earth than any full moon has in almost 69 years.

Experts also say it won’t happen again for another 18 years. Supermoons can appear 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter in the night sky.

READ MORE: November’s ‘super-duper’ moon and other cosmic delights

But, really, how special is this astronomical event?

The director of the planetarium at the Telus World of Science in Edmonton says something similar actually happens about once a year because the moon’s orbit is elliptical. When the moon hits the closest point to earth – referred to as perigee – humans can see the entire roundness of the moon.

The difference between the fullest full moon of the year and a supermoon is negligible, astronomer Frank Florian says.

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“The supermoon thing is a bit of a misnomer for the moon,” he explained.

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WATCH: Stunning timelapse video footage shows the so-called Supermoon rising in the night sky over Arizona Monday night.

Timelapse video shows Supermoon rising in the skies over Arizona
Timelapse video shows Supermoon rising in the skies over Arizona

“It’s just a way that someone tried to explain that the moon sometimes comes a bit closer the earth and used that term as a reference for it because it’s closer, not necessarily any better or any different from any full moon for that matter.

“To the unaided eye, if you have no way of really recollecting the size of these objects, it’s really hard to compare one size to the next size. For many people, all they’re going to look up and see is the full moon and they won’t notice anything real and special about it as the supermoon name might suggest,” Florian said.

READ MORE: ‘Supermoon’ bringing closest full moon to earth in almost 70 years 

He says last year’s perigee was only 300 kilometres farther away than this year’s supermoon.

“That’s not that much difference. In fact, you wouldn’t notice that at all even if I photographed it.”

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Monday night, the moon will still look great, Florian said, but it’s not quite full.

“It’ll be nice and bright. It’ll still look full to the unaided eye, but it’s just past full. Full moon actually occurred this morning around 6:52 a.m. but nonetheless, you can go outside and if you get a nice clear view towards the horizon around sunset, you’ll see the moon rising. It’ll still look pretty.”

IN PHOTOS: ‘Supermoon’ puts on spectacular display across night sky  

One thing events like supermoons do is get people excited about nature, space and sky. It’s also a chance to take some beautiful photos.

“Get your camera out and take a picture of the moon rising with some beautiful foreground objects – the city of Edmonton or some other landmark. It makes for a very nice picture,” Florian said.

“It provides a little bit of incentive for people to maybe get out and look up at the night sky, which I think, in this day in age, a lot of people have really forgotten,” he said. “We spend so much time with our technology and things like that, we don’t go outside and appreciate what the night sky has to offer.”

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