By Marty Russell
Look … up in the sky … it’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s SuperMoon! My nephew Derek will surely take offense at this being a huge Superman fan, a former writer for Superman’s home, DC Comics, and host of a podcast about “Smallville,” the TV series about the young Clark Kent/Superman, but I could never really get into the character myself.
I mean, unless you have a pocketful of kryptonite, as the song goes, Superman was pretty much invincible, which means the outcome of any conflict he found himself in was predictable. He always won.
I prefer my superheroes to be a little more vulnerable – and human – which Superman was not. If I had to design a superhero it would be something like Average Man, a guy who gets up in the morning and puts his tights on one leg at a time like the rest of us, goes out into the world and fights evil bosses and cranky customers and goes back to his Fortress of Solitude at the end of the day, a small ranch house in the suburbs. Instead of fighting for truth, justice and the American way, his motto would be pay the bills, eat the leftovers and live to do it again another day.
But what do I know? The current, heavily marketed Superman movie has already raked in more money than Average Man every will.
But back to SuperMoon, which is real and coming soon to a sky near you. Even though most of us don’t need a calendar to tell us that summer has arrived, it will officially be here this Friday. To be more precise, about 11 p.m. That’s when the summer solstice takes place, when we have the longest day of the entire year even though it’ll still only last 24 hours. But the period of darkness will be the shortest of the year with the sun rising about 5:54 a.m. and setting about 8:11 p.m.
This year’s summer solstice happens to coincide with another astronomical event, the perigee full moon which occurs on Sunday (at 6:32 a.m. to be precise). Perigee refers to the point in the moon’s orbit when it is closest to the Earth. It just so happens that this perigee falls during the moon’s full phase.
What that means is that this full moon will appear bigger and brighter than any other for the year. Astronomers estimate the moon will actually appear to be about 7 percent larger than normal this weekend. Hence the term “SuperMoon.”
This alignment happens about every 14 months and the next one won’t occur until August of 2014.
Scientists say the proximity of the SuperMoon will increase tidal fluctuations along the coastline. It’ll probably also tick off a lot of werewolves. Imagine having the biggest, brightest full moon of the year and the shortest night to go out and howl at it all falling at once. Bummer.
MARTY RUSSELL writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org