A super show in the night sky
Published 3:44 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Sky watchers were treated to a dazzling lunar display Saturday night as the moon passed closer to the Earth than usual.
The closer proximity to the Earth made the moon appear approximately 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighetr than it normally would, Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory told the Associated Press.
Chester said the difference in the moon’s appearance was so small that sky watchers “would be hard-pressed to detect it with the unaided eye.”
Like any full moon, the “supermoon” as it has been dubbed, would appear larger when it is near the horizon rather than higher in the sky. Chester said this is thanks to an optical illusion.
The full moon appears on the horizon at sunset. Sunset on Saturday was at approximately 7 p.m.
The last time a supermoon occurred was on March 19, 2011, when the moon was about 248 miles closer to Earth than it was on Saturday night. On average, the Earth-moon distance is about 230,000 miles.