For those aware that there is a thing called the sky, last night presented those of us located on the continental United States with the sight of a full lunar eclipse during a full moon. It was not only a lunar eclipse during a full moon, but it was a “supermoon,” as newspaper headline writers insisted.
The Moon’s orbit around the Earth is not a perfect circle; it varies from 221,000 miles away to just over 252,000 miles away. Last night, it was at perigee, or its closest point in its orbit, and that coincided with the full moon. Thus, last night’s full moon looked enormous: 14% larger than the average full moon and many times brighter than average. And then the Earth’s shadow took it away in an eclipse, because that’s what the Earth does.