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‘Super’ Super Moon to Make an Appearance Saturday

Full moon will be closest to Earth in nearly 20 years.

Grab your telescopes and cameras and look to the heavens Saturday night. That’s when we’re in for another “Super Moon.”

Astronomers are saying that this Super Moon will be even more super than usual.

“The last full moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993,” Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington D.C. told USA Today.

Planning to step outside to take in the Super Moon Saturday night? Be sure to post your photos to this story and say where they were taken. We'd love to create an awesome Super Moon photo gallery that features shots taken by Patch readers from all over the Tampa Bay area!

This Super Moon (a phrase coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979) will appear especially large because the moment of perigee—when the moon is closest to the Earth in its monthly rotation—will coincide with the appearance of a perfectly full moon, Smithsonian points out. During last year’s Super Moon on March 19, 2011, for comparison, the perigee and full moon were 50 minutes apart.

On Saturday at 11:34 p.m. ET, the moon reaches full moon status—when the earth, moon and sun are all in alignment. One minute later, at 11:35 p.m., “perigee” will occur.

The best time to photograph a full moon though, experts say, is at “moonrise.” Moonrise on Saturday will take place at 7:55 p.m. When the moon is near the horizon, illusion mixes with reality to produce a truly stunning view, NASA reports. Low-hanging moons look unnaturally large when they beam through trees, buildings and other foreground objects.

The moon will be 221,802 miles away from Earth Saturday night; (the average distance is 238,855 according to NASA.) That’s 17,053 miles closer.

This all translates to a moon that will appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than other full moons this year, according to NASA. (An astronomer interviewed by National Geographic says 16 percent bigger.)

But will the weather cooperate? According to the National Weather Service, it might. Saturday night is expected to be clear with partial cloud cover. So with any luck, it should be pretty easy to see the Super Moon.

For anyone living close to water—a perigee full Moon brings with it extra-high “perigean tides,” but this is nothing to worry about, according to NOAA. Lunar gravity at perigee pulls tide waters only a few centimeters (an inch or so) higher than usual. Local geography can amplify the effect to about 6 inches.

Be sure to check back with Patch after Saturday's Super Moon to see how area shutterbugs captured this event!

Joy Kobasko May 07, 2012 at 12:30 AM
I think this means a chance for rain, actually! ...Man, I hope we get some, soon. I'm about to do a rain dance.
Jim May 07, 2012 at 02:00 AM
The moon was so bright early this morning, I heard a confused mockingbird singing at 3:30am. Really weird.
Keli Sipperley May 07, 2012 at 12:56 PM
Charles, you crack me up.
Sherri Lonon May 07, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Jim, thanks for the comment and the chuckle on a Monday morning! That had to have been really weird!
Greg Giordano May 07, 2012 at 01:12 PM
My family made the trek outside to see the beautiful sight. I was reminded of the description of nighttime in "Twas the NIght Before Christmas": "The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below." While we obviously had no snow the effect of the Moon's reflected light was nonetheless brilliant.

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