Supermoon. Everything super, eh?
The Moon circles the Earth. But indeed, it is no circle, but an ellipse, which portrays itself in space like a kind of spiral, because the Earth, together with the Moon, circles the Sun. And thus, the distance between the Earth and the Moon does not remain the same, but continuously changes. The distance varies between approx. 357,000 km/222,000 mi (called perigee) to approx. 406,000 km/252,000 mi (called apogee).
So when the Moon is at perigee at its closest point to the Earth of its orbit, it appears larger than usual for the observer from the Earth and therefore brighter because more reflected sunlight is visible. NASA estimates the difference of size perception between perigee and apogee to be 14% and the difference of brightness to be 30%. But one must consider the fact that the distance does not change suddenly but steadily. And then a few percentage remain which are hardly observable, especially not, when the Moon is high up in the sky and you have no means of comparison.
Whoever waits for this spectacular event on a super full moon might just be disappointed. The word “super” is completely exaggerated. Who would call a musician a “superstar”, who is only 7% better than the average and only 14% better than his worst competitor? We humans are obviously only susceptible for the magnificent, for the superlatives, for the sensational and the onetime opportunity, which has definitely to be grasped. Maybe because our life is usually the opposite.
If we ask a wise man about a happy life, he will advise us to search for this happiness in the balance, in the middle of the extremes. Of course, the highs and the lows are part of this, but the fulfillment lies in the happy medium. If we look at it in this way, the Moon is a perfect role model, because it wanders through the extreme without remaining in it and commutes consistently through all phases. That is quite super!