Claim: Photograph shows a “super moon” over California’s Sequoia National Park.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, May 2012]
Super Moon rising above Sierra Nevada Sequoia National Park California
Last night, the moon was the biggest, and brightest full moon for 2012. Commonly referred to as a “Super Moon”, it appears brighter and bigger, as the moon will be closest to Earth. This shot was taken over Nevada. Probably the most beautiful Moon shot I have ever seen in my life!
Origins: A “super moon” (also known as a “perigee moon”) is a phenomenon produced by the Moon’s elliptical orbit, which causes that body’s distance from the Earth to vary from between about 220,000 miles at its closest (perigee) to 252,000 miles at its
farthest (apogee). When a new or full moon coincides with the perigee of the Moon’s orbit around the Earth, the result is a “super moon” which can appear up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than the moon does during the apogee of its orbit.
Two occurrences of super moons are taking place in January 2014 (one on
This isn’t a real photo of a super moon, however; it’s an altered version of a “mountains at night” image (origin unknown) which has been available as a popular
computer wallpaper background (without the added moon) since at least as far back as 2004:
Some additionally altered versions of this image forsook reality for a little humor:
Likewise, a similar picture supposedly showing a spectacular super moon seen over Rio de Janeiro in May 2012 was just an ordinary nighttime picture of that Brazilian city into which someone inserted an image of a very large, looming Moon:
Real photographs of the last super moon can be viewed in an EarthSky gallery, and the following NASA video explains the super moon phenomenon:
Last updated: 2 January 2014
A Word to Our Loyal Readers
Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.
- David Mikkelson
- Doreen Marchionni
- David Emery
- Bond Huberman
- Jordan Liles
- Alex Kasprak
- Dan Evon
- Dan MacGuill
- Bethania Palma
- Liz Donaldson
- Vinny Green
- Ryan Miller
- Chris Reilly
- Chad Ort
- Elyssa Young
Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.
We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.
Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.