Supermoon on San Francisco
Supermoon over golden gate bridge
On Saturday May 5, 2012, the lunar perigee coincided with a full moon. This fascinating event occurs about once a year. At its closest point the moon will be 222,000 miles (357,000 km) from Earth, causing high and low tides to be slightly more extreme than usual. [Source: The Telegraph]
The exact numbers differ depending on who you source, but according to NASA the moon appears up to 14% larger and 30% brighter. The scientific term for the phenomenon is “perigee moon”. Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon’s orbit. The Moon follows an elliptical path around Earth with one side (“perigee”) about 50,000 km closer than the other (“apogee”).
The best time to look is when the Moon is near the horizon. For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, low-hanging Moons look unnaturally large when they beam through trees, buildings and other foreground objects. The last Super perigee Moon occurred on March 19th, 2011, producing a full Moon that was almost 400 km closer. [Source: NASA]