The largest full moon of 2014 rises tonight (Aug. 10). August’s full moon, a so-called “supermoon,” rises when the natural satellite is at perigee — the closest point to Earth in its orbit. It is the second of three supermoons this summer.
While both July and September also play host to perigee full moons, this month’s supermoon is the bigger and better than the others this year, according to one NASA scientist.
The moon orbits about 238,855 miles (384,400 kilometers) from Earth on average. Today’s supermoon brings the moon about 31,000 miles (50,000 km) closer to Earth than it is during its farthest point from the planet. The moon will only be “10s of kilometers” closer to Earth than other full moons this year, according to Petro.
Sunday’s full moon will be 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than the smallest full moon of the year. Although casual observers of the moon might not notice a difference between the supermoon and other moons this year, regular skywatchers might be able to spot a subtle change in brightness, according to Petro.
One of the best times to see the supermoon is just after sunset tonight. “If you have a clear horizon, get out and check it out,” Petro added. “It should be a great show. Of course, any time of night when the moon is high in the sky is a great time as well.”
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