Fact Check

Does a Photo Show a 'Super Moon' at the Temple of Poseidon?

Internet users marveled at an old photo of a "super moon" in Greece, with the celestial event set to take place again in May 2021.

Published May 19, 2021

 (ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Image Via ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images
A photograph shared online in May 2021 shows a "super moon" behind the temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion, Greece.

In May 2021, as the world prepared for the second of two "super moons" that year, internet users marveled at a photograph that was presented as a view of an earlier super moon, set behind the temple of Poseidon in Greece.

For example, on May 18, one user on Reddit posted the photograph along with the caption: "This is what a 'super moon' at the Temple of Poseidon looks like":

The photograph was authentic, and the description was accurate. We are issuing a rating of "True."

The technical name for a super moon is a "perigee moon." It occurs when a full moon coincides with the moon's reaching "perigee" — that is, the nearest point to the earth during the lunar orbit, which is elliptical rather than perfectly round. When that takes place at the same time as a full moon, the moon appears unusually large to us earthlings and produces some spectacular and dramatic views.

In 2014, three perigee moons took place in a row — on July 12, Aug. 10, and Sept. 9. During the first of those super moons, Greek photographer Constantine Emmanouilidi captured the view shown above, at the temple of Poseidon on Cape Sounion, near Athens. He posted the original photograph to the website 500px.com and also to his Facebook page.

Emmanouilidi also captured striking views of the perigee moon that took place in August and September, at two other locations:

The temple of Poseidon, built between 450 and 440 B.C., lends itself to spectacular views of a super moon. Photographers other than Emmanouilidi have evidently had the same idea, and the temple — as well as the promontory on which it stands — was captured during full moons in 2012, 2013, and again in 2021.

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.