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Micromoon or Micro Full Moon: What Is It?, When is Next?

When the moon graces the night sky, capturing our attention and admiration, how many of us stop to wonder if tonight’s moon is any different from the last one we admired? You might be surprised to learn that not all full moons are created equal. Among the celestial phenomena that intrigue skywatchers, Micromoon is a hidden gem, quietly competing for attention with its glamorous counterpart, the Supermoon.

What is a Micromoon?

So, what makes a Micro-moon different? Picture this: you’re standing in your backyard, the night is clear, and the moon is rising. It’s beautiful but appears somewhat distant and subdued. That’s a Micromoon for you—a full moon at its apogee, the point in its orbit where it’s farthest from Earth. Though it may not be the belle of the lunar ball like a Supermoon, a Micromoon has its own special charm and a unique set of experiences to offer.

The Science Behind a Full Moon

Imagine the Moon and Earth in a cosmic dance around each other. This dance isn’t perfectly choreographed; the Moon’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle but an ellipse. This makes our lunar friend sometimes come closer to us (perigee) and sometimes drift away (apogee). When the moon decides to dance at its farthest point from Earth during a full moon, we’re treated to a Micromoon.

Moon Phases
Image Credit: NASA/Bill Dunford

Myth and Folklore

Just as every culture has its stories, so does every moon. While Supermoons and Harvest Moons are the rockstars of lunar folklore, Micromoons have their place as well. They might not be the main characters in ancient myths, but they do represent the idea of ‘less is more’ or the notion that sometimes, things that appear smaller can have deep, intrinsic value.

How Much Smaller is a Micromoon?

Picture your typical Supermoon, large and luminous, dominating the sky. Now, imagine something 14% smaller; that’s your Micromoon. In hard numbers, a Micromoon is about 405,500 km away compared to a much closer 363,300 km for a Supermoon. While this might not be glaringly obvious to the casual observer, telescope aficionados will appreciate the nuance.

The Impact on Tides

If you’re an avid surfer or someone who keeps an eye on the tides for whatever reason, you’ll notice the subtler pull of a Micromoon. The waves may not roar as loudly, but they have their own subdued eloquence during this time.

Micromoons and Astrology

Now, if you’re someone who flips to the astrology column in the morning paper, you might find astrologers talking about Micromoons as times for introspection. It’s like the universe’s way of saying, “Take a step back and reflect.”

Photographing a Micromoon

For photography enthusiasts, a Micromoon offers its own set of challenges and rewards. Your photos might not have the immediate “wow” factor that a Supermoon provides, but a Micromoon’s dimmer light can reveal details on the lunar surface that are often washed out during a Supermoon. It’s like capturing a candid shot versus a posed one—each has its own value.

Micromoons vs. Supermoons

If the moon were a celebrity, the Supermoon would be the one hogging all the limelight, making headline news and trending on social media. The Micromoon, on the other hand, is like the indie film star—less conspicuous but equally talented.

Micromoon or Micro Full Moon img 2
Image Credit: Catalin Paduraru

When Can You See a Micromoon?

Keep an eye on those celestial calendars; Micromoons don’t like to announce their presence with a bang. Unlike Supermoons, which you might accidentally stumble upon because everyone is talking about it, Micromoons are for those who seek them out.

Upcoming Micromoons: Mark Your Calendars

For those eager to witness this celestial marvel, we’ve got some dates for you to mark on your calendar. Whether you’re an amateur astronomer, a photography enthusiast, or simply someone who enjoys the night sky, these are the upcoming Micromoons you won’t want to miss:

  • 2023

    • Saturday, 7 January: Micro Full Moon
    • Sunday, 5 February: Micro Full Moon
    • Wednesday, 16 August: Micro New Moon
  • 2024

    • Saturday, 24 February: Micro Full Moon
    • Monday, 25 March: Micro Full Moon
    • Wednesday, 2 October: Micro New Moon

Plan ahead to make the most of these celestial events. Whether you’re looking to take stunning photographs or hoping to experience a quiet moment of reflection, these Micromoons offer unique opportunities for both.

Spiritual Significance of the Micromoon

In a world that often shouts, a Micromoon whispers. If you’re someone who finds spirituality in the whispers of the world, the Micromoon is your time for silent contemplation, for letting go of material worries and focusing on the spiritual and emotional.

Does Earth Have Micro-Moons?

On a side note, did you know Earth occasionally captures “micro-moons”? These aren’t smaller versions of our Moon but transient little visitors like asteroids that get caught in our gravitational field. A fascinating tidbit, but remember, they’re not to be confused with a Micromoon, which is always our one and only Moon at its farthest point from us.

Cultural and Spiritual Significance

Each type of moon has its own fan club. While Supermoons are all about spectacle and grandeur, Micromoons attract those who find beauty in subtlety and nuance.

Final Thoughts

The sky has always been a source of wonder and mystery for humans, captivating our imaginations and sparking our curiosity. While Supermoons often steal the spotlight, Micromoons offer an equally intriguing celestial display. These quieter, more subdued full moons offer a unique opportunity for contemplation and appreciation of the subtler aspects of our universe.

Whether you’re a photographer looking for a different kind of lunar shot, a surfer interested in tidal variations, or simply someone who enjoys stargazing, Micromoons are worth looking out for. In our always-on, constantly connected world, they offer a welcome invitation to slow down, reflect, and appreciate the nuanced beauty all around us.

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