Astronomy is a question of physics

When OPTIS allows to see the imperceptible

December 1st, 2017 | OPTIS group


Next supermoon will happen the 3rd December 2017 in the night between Sunday and Monday.


But what is a Supermoon? Supermoon is the origin of a lot of controversy on the web due to media that like to hype the super moon phenomenon. Let’s see if it is a myth to create a buzz or a true astronomical phenomenon. 


  • The Moon’s distance varies between approximately 357 000 km which is called perigee and 406 000 km called apogee because of its elliptical orbit around the Earth.
  • The first person who talked about “Supermoon” was not from an astronomer but an astrologer called Richard Nolle.
  • A moon becomes a super moon when its distance from Earth is less than 359 000km (6% closer than the average Earth-moon distance). The technical term for “Supermoon” used by scientific is called a perigee-syzygy Full moon. The term Syzygy means an alignment of three celestial objects such as Earth Moon and Sun for example.


The Supermoon is on average 7% bigger and 16% brighter than an average full moon.


If you compare the full Moon to an unusually close perigee configuration the full moon can be approximately 14% larger than a full Moon at apogee (also known as "Micromoon") and 30% brighter.



But what can we conclude about the night of the third December? The atmosphere does not act like a magnifying glass. The atmospheric refraction increases with its thickness meaning that atmospheric refraction is way bigger when you observe the horizon instead of focusing zenith. That's why when you observe the moon rising over the hill its shape is ovoid and not circular, the atmosphere acts like a prism.


However, it will be hard to see any difference, when the moon is high in the sky, between the supermoon and classical full moon because you have no comparison point.


To conclude nothing special for us with the naked eye, just a classical astronomical phenome due to physics. However, the supermoon can bring the largest tides of the year due to the gravitational pull which is stronger when the moon is closer. There is no scientific evidence that super moon can increase the risk of physical disasters such as volcanic eruptions and other.


Are you disillusioned? Don’t worry, OPTIS has the perfect solution to see the imperceptible! Even if this event is not as impressive as expected, the OPTIS company which is expert in physics and optical simulation thinks that each optical phenomenon matter.


Thanks to SPEOSlight and human vision simulation software ruled by optical laws – it is now possible to simulate lighting phenomena in almost every industrial field: from medical optical system, automotive lighting system to military imaging system - and of course astronomy - with a large electromagnetic spectrum from X-ray and ultraviolet regions through the visible to the far infrared.


One of OPTIS goal is to help scientists to design a better way to observe cosmos thanks to virtual prototyping. Among other things, stray light is very problematic for an astronomer and optical devices in general. That's why OPTIS’ software helps to avoid them by simulating the path of the light through the lens. Thanks to simulation, engineers can design better combination of lens and choose the best material to avoid stray light.


So now, are you ready to look at the night sky next Sunday, with telescope lenses mastered thanks to OPTIS solutions, to fully observe the Supermoon?





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