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‘Supermoon’ shines brightly this weekend

FILE - In this Saturday May 5 2012 file pho'supermoon' rises behind Temple PoseidCape SouniGreece southeast Athens. The phenomenoccurs when

FILE - In this Saturday, May 5, 2012 file photo, a "supermoon" rises behind the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion, Greece, southeast of Athens. The phenomenon occurs when the moon passes closer to Earth than usual. The event on Sunday, June 23, 2013 will make the moon appear 14 percent larger than normal, but the difference is so small that most skywatchers won’t notice. (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis)

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Updated: June 22, 2013 8:24PM



Moon maniacs, this is your weekend.

A so-called “supermoon” — the biggest and brightest full moon of the year — graces the sky early Sunday as our celestial neighbor swings closer to Earth than usual.

A supermoon occurs when the moon is slightly closer to Earth than it typically is. The effect is most noticeable when it occurs at the same time as a full moon, according to James Garvin, chief scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

The moon will come within 222,000 miles of Earth and turn full around 7:30 a.m. Sunday Central Daylight Time, making it the best time to view.

This full moon is not only the closest and largest full moon of the year, according to astronomy website EarthSky. It’s also the moon’s closest encounter with Earth in all of 2013. So it’s not just a supermoon — it’s the closest supermoon of the half-dozen or so that will occur this year, EarthSky reports.

While the moon will appear 14 percent larger normal, sky watchers won’t be able to notice the difference with the naked eye. Still, astronomers say it’s worth looking up and appreciating the cosmos.

“It gets people out there looking at the moon and might make a few more people aware that there’s interesting stuff going on in the night sky,” Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory said.

The word supermoon was coined in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle, according to AccuWeather’s Mark Paquette. Nolle used the term to describe a new or full moon that occurs when the moon is at or near its closest approach to Earth.

The moon is passing within about 221,000 miles from the Earth on Saturday night, compared with its “typical” distance of about 238,000 miles.

The moon’s effect on ocean tides is higher during a supermoon than any other time, so expect higher and lower tides than usual, reports Sean Breslin of the Weather Channel. (The high tide this weekend is also known as a “king” tide.) There is no connection between the supermoon and earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

“If you’re looking for a more thrilling lunar event, a larger supermoon is expected on Sept. 28, 2015, and the largest supermoon until 2034 will occur on Nov. 14, 2016,” Breslin says.

And forget about the myths that swirl every time a supermoon appears. There’s no link to higher crime or bizarre behavior. Scientists say that’s just lunacy.



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