TOPEKA (KSNT) – There’s Super Moons, Harvest Moons and Blue Moons. But have you heard of a Mini Moon?
The first of three Mini Moons will be appearing overheard later this month on Friday, Jan. 6, according to Brenda Culbertson, a Solar System Ambassador for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. A Mini Moon, also known as a Micro or Apogee Moon, appears very small because it is at the farthest point in its orbit around the Earth.
The moon orbits Earth in an elliptical path, meaning that one side of its orbit is closer to Earth than the other, according to NASA. This can result in the opposite of a Mini Moon as well: a Super Moon. While a Super Moon appears when the moon is only 223,694 miles away from Earth, a Mini Moon occurs when the Moon is 251,655 miles away.
Mini Moons can result in two side-effects while they are visible, according to Culbertson. The first is that tides around the world will decrease in intensity while the second is that due to the moon being farther away, there will be slightly less light in the sky reflected off the moon.
“A Micro Moon may be either full or new phase, but it is always at apogee, the farthest point in orbit,” said Culbertson. “The Micro Moon on Jan 6. 2023, will appear slightly less bright as a regular Full Moon, and it may appear a tiny bit smaller, but most people will not notice. As with any Full Moon, people may step outside and see it, even from within the city lights. There is no major significance of a Micro Moon, but it may be interesting to compare photos of a Micro Moon and a Super Moon.”
Culbertson said there will be two other Mini Moons in 2023 on Feb. 5 and Aug. 16. To learn more about Mini Moons and other moon-related events, click here.