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Supermoon Mania: First of Three Bright, Full Summer Moons Visible Tonight

Jul 12, 2014 11:35 AM EDT
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Get ready for a summer full of "supermoons," because not just one or two, but three of these bright, full moons will appear in the sky, the first of them visible this Saturday at 7:25 a.m. EDT.

The supermoon of June 2013 captured everyone's attention - it was 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than other full Moons of 2013 - and this weekend people from all over the world can marvel at another bright, full moon.

A supermoon, also known as a "perigee moon," occurs when a moon turns full around the same time it reaches "perigee," the closest point to Earth along its elliptical orbit. The Moon may seem bigger, although the difference in its distance from Earth is only a few percent at such times, NASA noted.

While it may seem like a rare event, Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory told NASA Science News that it's actually relatively common.

"Generally speaking, full Moons occur near perigee every 13 months and 18 days, so it's not all that unusual," he said. "In fact, just last year there were three perigee Moons in a row, but only one was widely reported."

This supermoon trio will occur July 12, Aug. 10 and Sept. 9.

On Saturday, the Moon was 222,611 miles away from Earth - that's 30,000 miles closer than at its farthest distance in 2014. The moon will be at its closest this year on Aug. 10, when it will be 221,748 miles from Earth.

"I guarantee that some folks will think it's the biggest moon they've ever seen if they catch it rising over a distant horizon, because the media will have told them to pay attention to this particular one," Chester said.

Another type of moon called a "strawberry" moon also made headlines just last month because it appeared on Friday the 13th - a phenomenon that hadn't occurred in over a decade and made superstitious people a little more wary.

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