Cool Star Lab Alumna Jackie Faherty Talks Supermoon on NPR


Cool Star Lab alumna Dr. Jackie Faherty, now a Senior Scientist at the American Museum of Natural History, spoke to NPR today about tonight’s “Supermoon” phenomenon.

The Moon’s orbit is an ellipse with an average eccentricity of 0.05, and therefore varies between 363,000 km (perigee) and 405,000 km (apogee) from Earth.  When the Moon is close to perigee at Full Moon (a “perigee syzygy”), it can appear 10% wider and thus 22% brighter than a Full Moon near apogee.

Image of the full moon from NASA

However, the gravitational tugs of the Sun, Jupiter and Venus actually perturb the orbit of the Moon enough to drive the eccentricity to a range of values, typically between 0.026 and 0.077.  So tonight’s Moon is just a little bit closer (357,000 km), and is estimated to be about 30% brighter than an apogee Full Moon. This makes it the brightest supermoon since 1948, and the next closer one won’t be until 2034.

You can hear more details about the Supermoon from Jackie’s NPR segment at


Alumna Jacqueline Faherty earns prestigious Hubble Fellowship


Jacqueline Faherty, a Cool Star Lab PhD graduate who is currently an NSF International Postdoctoral Fellow at Universidad de Chile, has been selected as one of 17 Hubble Fellows in 2013.  One of the most prestigious postdoctoral fellowships awarded in astronomy, the Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowship Program supports outstanding postdoctoral scientists whose research is broadly related to NASA Cosmic Origins scientific goals as addressed by any of the missions in that program: the Herschel Space Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope (HST), James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), and the Spitzer Space Telescope.

Lab PI Adam Burgasser was also a Hubble Fellow (2001-2004), as was one of his PhD advisors Michael Brown (1994-1997).  This makes Jackie one of the few “Hubble grandchildren”.