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Fulllll Moon Tonight: 'Supermoon' Makes Closest Approach to Earth in Two Decades

A beautiful celestial phenomenon

You can almost reach out and touch it.

Tonight's so-called "supermoon" will not only be a full moon, but the biggest and brightest moon that we've seen in some time. According to the AP,  the "celestial phenomenon" will appear larger than usual "as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 18 years...On Saturday, the moon will be 221,565 miles away — the closest to Earth since March 1993."

According to the Weather Chanel, though, "this weekend the moon will be closer to the earth than it has been in 25 years."

The Weather Channel website explains the cause of the "supermoon":

The March full moon will be the closest (to the Earth) and largest full moon of 2011. Why? It comes down to the fact that the Moon's orbit around the Earth is not a perfect circle, it's an ellipse in fact.

One side of the Moon's orbit is actually roughly 31,000 miles closer to Earth than the other side of its orbit.

When the Moon's orbit takes it the farthest away from Earth, the Moon is at its apogee. When it makes its closest approach, the Moon is at its perigee.

So not only will we have a full Moon on March 19 but the Moon will also be at its perigee. This means that the Moon will appear big in the night sky and it will be very bright; a sight to see for sure!

According to experts, the presence of the "supermoon" is nothing to fear. Though it will bring a range of low and high tides, it will not cause any natural disasters, as the superstition goes, nor will it summon the werewolves from their slumber:

Predictions of major disasters due to the extreme supermoon are simply not true. Yes, an historic earthquake and resultant devastating tsunami struck Japan on March 11. And yet another major natural disaster may very well occur on March 19 but it won't be because of the Moon. The most significant impact from the perigee moon will be the Perigean tides.

According to NASA and NOAA, a perigee Moon brings with it extra-high "perigean tides" but this is nothing to worry about. In most places, 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 six inches.

The Weather Channel has some tips about when to moon-watch tonight.

The best time to take a look at this full, perigee moon is when the moon is located near the horizon on the evening of March 19. Direct your eyes to the eastern horizon during the 7 and 8 o'clock hour. Per, low-hanging Moons look unnaturally large when they beam through trees, buildings and other foreground objects for reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists.

It should be a sight of beauty to behold.

One last thing…
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