Tuesday, March 22, 2011

'Supermoon' even awes astronomers
By John Roach

Even professional astronomers got swept up in the excitement about the Mar. 19 "supermoon," the biggest full moon of 2011 and the closest it's been to Earth in 18 years.

The rare combination of fullness and closeness made it look bigger and brighter than usual, and was quite a spectacle for sky watchers around the world.

While professional astronomers were busy dispelling rumors that the so-called supermoon caused the March 11 9.0 earthquake in Japan or would trigger other disasters, they did get caught up in the excitement of its beauty.

European Southern Observatory photo ambassador Gerd Hüdepohl captured this image of the "supermoon" as seen from Cerro Paranal, home of ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile.

On the right, in the east, the moon rises over the mountains, while the setting sun is visible on the left of the panorama, sinking in the west below the clouds over the Pacific Ocean. Its last rays illuminate the VLT compound as well the staff who stepped out onto the mountaintop to watch the sunset and the moonrise.

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