On Saturday night, the near perfect timing of two celestial events will make the moon appear larger and brighter in the night sky. This is called a “supermoon.”
A supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with the moon being closest to Earth in its orbit, also known as perigee. Saturday’s supermoon will be as much as 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than other full moons in 2012, according to NASA.
Although the moon officially becomes full at 11:35 p.m. — just one minute after reaching lunar perigee —the best viewing time will be in the early evening, shortly after sunset when the moon is near the horizon, according to National Geographic’s Andrew Fazekas.
“What you should see is the moon rising, deeply colored and looming over the foreground objects,” Geza Gyuk, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, told Fazekas.
There’s also no need to freak out that the moon’s close proximity to Earth will trigger earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. While a supermoon does bring extra-high tides, “it should not affect the internal energy balance of the Earth since there are lunar tides every day,” says Dr. James Garvin, chief scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
In other words, the extra gravitational force isn’t big enough to produce any significant changes in seismic activity. So, just enjoy the show.
- Supermoon Coming Saturday – No Fears of Natural Disasters (news.nationalgeographic.com)
- Supermoon Rises on Saturday Night (myfoxchicago.com)
- The Supermoon is Upon Us (newsfeed.time.com)