Super Moon 2012: Biggest Of The Year
DETROIT (WWJ) - If you’re awake really late Saturday night, you’ll be lucky enough to view the astronomical phenomenon known as “Super Moon.”
At around 11: 35 p.m. the moon will reach its perigee, the closest point to Earth in its orbit. This will be the only “super moon” of the year –as much as 30 percent brighter and 14 percent bigger than ordinary full moons this year, according to NASA.
Because of the moon’s closeness to Earth, Saturday’s Super Moon will be especially pronounced.
At perigee, the moon lies only 221,802 kilometers from the Earth along its orbit. Later this month on May 19, the moon will reach its apogee — the farthest point from the Earth, at 252,555 miles away.
Although the moon will become full closer to midnight, the best time to view the moon will be the early evening, just when it rises and when it is close to the horizon. It is then that the moon can be seen behind buildings or trees, an effect that produces an optical illusion that makes the moon appear even larger than it is.
“Once it rises, it’s going to be pretty much the same brightness. It will be a different color probably when it’s near the horizon, probably more amber because its cutting through more of the atmosphere and certainly more white or silver as it gets higher,” said Michael Narlock, head of astronomy at Cranbrook Institute of Science.
While the Super Moon may appear unusual, scientists assure there is no need for alarm.
“It’s really nothing to be concerned about, other than when you go outside and see the full moon you’re going to be able to see it bigger than it normally is and much, much brighter than it normally is,” said Narlock.
Last year’s super moon, which occurred on March 19, was just a bit closer to earth (221,567 miles), than this year’s. It was also the closest Super Moon in two decades.
If you don’t get a chance to view the Super Moon on Saturday, don’t worry — NASA says they’re actually fairly common.