Supermoon will make Saturday’s full moon the year’s biggest

Jordan Chittley
Daily Buzz

While the cosmic coincidence will occur at 11:35 p.m. EST, the best time to see it is when the moon is low on the horizon

A supermoon occurs when a full moon comes while the orb is at its closest point to the Earth. One is happening Saturday night.

The perigee — the closest approach point to the Earth — will be within a minute of the full moon at 11:35 p.m. EST. This will make the moon seem 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than other full moons, said NASA in a CBC article.

This cosmic coincidence will make the moon seem so much bigger because it will be about 26,000 kilometres closer to the Earth than its normal distance of about 383,000 kilometres. This happens because the moon's orbit is not a perfect circle.

For those going out to look, NASA said the best time to see a massive moon is before dusk when the moon is just starting to rise on the horizon. This will allow you to take advantage of the "moon illusion" that makes it seem bigger.

"When you see the moon on the horizon and it looks huge, it looks like a giant beach ball, that's actually an optical illusion," said CBC science commentator Bob McDonald. The moon looks larger in perspective, because we see it behind other things like buildings or trees.

Experts say the actual difference in size will be hard to notice with the naked eye, but someone with a high-quality camera may catch it.

While it's beautiful to look at, some believe it may be linked to earthquakes or volcanic eruptions because of the moon's link to tides. But as a Discovery News article shows, there is no link.

The moon is the reason why tides occur and the supermoon will affect tides by a few extra centimetres. This will be even more pronounced in the Bay of Fundy, which has the highest tides in the world. But Eric Briggs from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada's Toronto Centre told CBC not to worry: "As far as the end of the world, not much risk of that."

Supermoons happen about once a year with the last one happening March 19 of 2011.

For those hoping to see it, you may have better luck in certain parts of the country. Halifax, St. John's and Regina are supposed to be cloudy with rain or drizzle. Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver are supposed to be mainly clear or just partly cloudy.

(LiveScience photo)