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Supermoon for Washington, Oregon Coast: Major Fireballs Seen

Published 03/05/2020 at 1:28 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Supermoon for Washington, Oregon Coast: Major Fireball Seen

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(Oregon Coast) – That full moon in March? Let's super size it! (Above: full moon casts a glow at Hug Point near Cannon Beach).

Get ready for an extra large moon in March, visible all over the Pacific Northwest, including the Washington coast and the Oregon coast. Meanwhile, a bright meteor flared over Oregon Wednesday night and officials are looking to find out more.

According to Jim Todd of Portland’s OMSI, it’s a supermoon this week and it will be the first of three in 2020. This one coming up on March 8 and 9 will be the second closest of the year.

“Supermoons are not rare,” Todd said. “At least two, or perhaps a half dozen, occur each year. So, this phenomenon is not unusual or unheard of.”

If the weather holds up, the beaches of Oregon and Washington will be particularly spectacular to view this as there’s little to no light interference. However, since the moon rises in the east and then sets in the west after morning light, the one thing that will be missing is the astounding sight of the moon straight out to sea, where it can cast a spellbinding glow and reflection.

Some areas to check out on the Washington coast include the beaches of the Olympic National Park region, where those enormous rocky spires can cast fascinating and gigantic shadows. Similar sights could be found on the southern Oregon coast around Bandon's Face Rock and Wizard Hat Rock. High vantage points along the Oregon coast like those at Cape Foulweather or Anderson’s Viewpoint near Oceanside will yield awe-inspiring sights with reflections in the ocean happening at different angles.

Todd said from the Portland point of view, the moon will officially become full on March 9 at 10:47 a.m., but this is during daylight and it will be below the horizon. However, from both ends of Pacific Northwest beaches it will appear full on March 8 and 9. Todd said this supermoon wil be at its perigee (closest to Earth) ar 10:33 p.m. on March 9, at a distance of 222,081 miles.

Come Monday, sunset around the northern Oregon coast and Portland will be about 7:09 p.m., but times will differ slightly on the southern Oregon coast and into the Washington coast. It will rise directly from the east at 7:22 p.m. that day and will be due south at around 2 a.m. on Tuesday - a good time to look for lunar reflections on the ocean. It then sets in the west well after dawn. At 10:33 p.m. you’ll be able to witness it at its closest to this planet.

OTHER TIMES / EXAMPLES Bandon, Oregon March 9: Moonrise at 7:15 p.m.; setting at 7:36 a.m. -- Olympia Washington, March 9: Moonrise at 7:21 p.m.; setting at 8:02 a.m.

“A full moon occurs in the middle of the lunar cycle of 29.5 days, and is recognizable by its near perfect spherical shape,” Todd said. “Technically speaking, the full moon only lasts for about a second. This difference cannot be seen with the naked eye. Without a telescope, it is difficult to distinguish between a moon that is 100% illuminated and a moon that is 99% illuminated. While the Moon may only be 100% full for about one minute, it looks “full” for about three days.”

The moon orbits around us in an ellipse that brings it closer at times and the farther away. It’s called an apogee when it’s at its farthest point from Earth, which is on average nearly 253,000 miles away. The closest point to Earth is called the perigee, which is an average distance of about 225,744 miles, Todd said.

“On average, the distance from Earth to the moon is about 238,855 miles,” Todd said. “During every 27-day orbit around Earth, the moon reaches both its apogee and perigee.”

During a supermoon it will appear 14 percent to 30 percent brighter than the typical full moon. Todd said that generally a supermoon is the term used for a full moon 90 percent or close to perigee.

Fireball Update: Numerous fireballs were seen Wednesday evening and early Thursday morning, in inland Oregon and Washington and some on the coastlines of both states.

These updates from Jim Todd of OMSI:

"Bright fireball visible from Western Oregon and Southwest Washington, occurred on Wednesday, March 4 around 7:15 pm due southeast. According to the log, there were even earlier sightings reported between 6:30 pm and 7:00 pm. Reports indicted fireball appeared moving eastward, lasted 2 to 3 seconds, and fairly bright. This is typical of a small fireball.

Then another fireball appeared around 12:50 am on Thursday, March 5th due westward, visible from Oregon coast and Tacoma, Washington. Reports indicated fireball appeared moving westward, lasted 2 to 3 seconds, and fairly bright. This is typical of a small fireball.

Weather then was partly cloudy over the valley. Reports like these are valuable to help determine reports of the fireball or meteor, and perhaps meteorite fragments if any. I have not received any direct reports from last night. Encourage anyone who saw the fireball to report it onto the AMS Fireball Log below. Anyone with Ring Nest, security cameras or dash cam are encouraged to send video clips.”

The group and other astronomy agencies are asking the help of the public to look at dashcam or security video if you see anything. See https://www.amsmeteors.org/ . Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - Where to eat - Map - Virtual Tour

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