This year's supermoon sparked a wave of interest in what's happening up above — but there's no reason for that interest to wane just because the moon is waning.
Monday night's nearly full moon should look almost as good as it did on Saturday and Sunday night. And by some definitions, the next full moon on July 22 qualifies as a "supermoon" as well. The Farmer's Almanac says July's moon counts because our nearest celestial neighbor will be more than 90 percent of the way to its closest approach to Earth.
The moon's seeming size during its full phase varies according to where it falls in the course of the moon's orbit: This weekend's supermoon was almost as wide as it could possibly get, because the full phase came only minutes after the moon was at the closest point in its orbit around our planet. That made the moon about 14 percent wider and 30 percent brighter than it would be if the full moon came at the farthest point in its orbit.
The effect itself isn't necessarily that super-duper, which led some experts to scoff at the phenomenon. "The perennially hyped name 'Super Moon' insults the legacy of Superman, Super Volcanoes, Supernovae, and even Super Mario," Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of New York's Hayden Planetarium, complained in a tweet. He noted that calling this weekend's full moon "super" would be like calling a 13-inch pizza super in comparison with a 12-inch pizza.
Most folks wouldn't complain about an extra inch of pizza, and they weren't complaining about the supermoon, either. We received hundreds of supermoon submissions in response to our weekend call for pictures, including a fun one from Sherry Ott. "In South Dakota this weekend, watching the cows jump over the supermoon," she wrote.
You'll find her picture and scores of others in the gallery below, plus a "greatest hits" slideshow. We're also including a nice time-lapse video of the supermoon from Cyprus.
It's great that the moon had a super weekend in the spotlight, but there's much, much more to look forward to in the months to come: The Aug. 12-13 Perseid meteor shower should be a good one this year. Oct. 12 has been designated International Observe the Moon Night. There's a total solar eclipse on Nov. 3 that you'll be hearing more about. Skywatchers are hoping that Comet ISON will turn into the "comet of the century" in late November. Next April brings a total lunar eclipse — and before you know it, the next supermoon will be rising on Aug. 10, 2014. Make a note to celebrate the event with a 13-inch pizza.
More about the supermoon:
- Video: Supermoon takes over Twitter
- Video: Google goes ga-ga over supermoon
- NBC News archive on the supermoon
Alan Boyle is NBCNews.com's science editor. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by "liking" the NBC News Science Facebook page, following @b0yle on Twitter and adding the Cosmic Log page to your Google+ presence. To keep up with NBCNews.com's stories about science and space, sign up for the Tech & Science newsletter, delivered to your email in-box every weekday. You can also check out "The Case for Pluto," my book about the controversial dwarf planet and the search for new worlds.