There’s a slight difference however. Whereas perigee can occur at different phases, supermoon is specifically used for when perigee and full moon phase coincide.
No matter which of the two words you prefer, you’re in luck because there’s a big, big moon heading our way in March and it’s not to be missed.
The average Earth-to-moon distance is 384,000 kilometres. However, because the moon’s orbit isn’t perfectly circular but slightly elliptical, it can be as distant as 406,000 and as near as 356,000 kilometres from us. On 9 March it will be very nearly at this point and the nights before and after, almost as close.
Let’s be clear, a moonrise beats a sunrise easily in my book, but to have it coincide with its closest approach to Earth makes it absolutely essential viewing. Were it a TV program it would be the top-rating reality show.
The best night is Monday 9 March, when our lunar neighbour rises a couple of minutes after the sun sets at 7.48pm. Find a location with a low clear eastern horizon without trees, buildings or nearby hills obstructing your view – an easterly-facing beach is good or top of a hill, and stare at the horizon until the moon slowly, yet majestically, creeps over it. Sunday night it is visible earlier and Tuesday night it starts a little later at 8.28pm.
Eyes alone will suffice, but binoculars will allow you to see some craters and bright rays – pulverised ‘ejecta’ from collisions that formed those prominent craters. Select The Waterboys singing The Whole of the Moon as background music, and enjoy!