Supermoon May 2012: Biggest Moon of the Year
The biggest moon of the year has approached this month and can be seen at its biggest and brightest Saturday, May 5.
In the U.S., the moon will reach its peak fullness at 11:35 p.m. EST. Almost simultaneously, the moon's perigee will occur, meaning the moon will reach its closest point to Earth in its orbit. Because of the moon's closeness to Earth, Saturday's supermoon 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 officially 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.
While the supermoon appears unusual, scientists assure skywatchers that there is no need for alarm. The slight distance difference between the moon and Earth is not enough to cause any earthquakes or extreme tidal effects, according to Tecca.
However, the super-close moon will have an effect on ocean tides and will cause the highest and the lowest tides of the year. The change in tide levels could be increased in addition to strong winds, but the supermoon will not present any danger.
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In Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, the supermoon will be visible on May 6.
The last supermoon took place in March 2011.
On Twitter, users are expressing their excitement over Saturday's supermoon.
"Can't wait to see this: Supermoon alert," wrote Ron. "Biggest full moon of 2012 due Sat."
"This is gonna be awesome," posted Van Dessel Sports. "No clouds please."
Twitter user Vanessa wrote, "This weekend the moon will me MAGICAL! Supermoon 2012 Visible This Week As Moon Reaches Perigee."
"The biggest full moon of the year is coming this weekend," posted Kim. "It's called a 'supermoon,' which is just awesome."
WATCH VIDEO OF MAY'S SUPERMOON