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‘Supermoon’ to illuminate skies Saturday night

On Saturday evening the lunar orb will only be 221,802 miles away from Earth. That's about 15,300 miles closer than average.

Enthusiastic sky gazers in the United States will be offered a spectacular celestial treat Saturday evening when they can spot the supermoon brightly light up sky.

A supermoon is new or a full moon which is much closer to Earth than it usually is.

Supermoons are not rare, occurring about once a year. The last one was sighted on March 19, 2011, while the next one is scheduled to happen on June 23, 2013.

At its peak, the glowing disc will be 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than the average full moon and will be the brightest of 2012.

The lunar spectacle
It’s called a “supermoon” as the lunar orb reaches its perigee or closest point to Earth. On Saturday evening the lunar orb will only be 221,802 miles away from Earth. That's about 15,300 miles closer than average.

The best time to view the phenomenon will be when the moon rises on the horizon. It will appear stunningly enormous at that time thanks to the optical trick called “moon illusion.”

“The moon’s orbit isn’t round, so sometimes it is closer to Earth than at other times,” said College of Charleston senior instructor Terry Richardson. “The close approach happens to coincide with the full moon.”

“The moon, for psychological reasons, looks bigger on the horizon and this one will be bigger than normal anyway,” Richardson said.

The best time to view the “supermoon” will be when it rises on the horizon. The lunar disc will appear stunningly enormous at that time thanks to the optical trick called “moon illusion.”

Myths debunked
Myth has it that the moon’s closeness to Earth can spell havoc and cause a spike in crime and crazy behavior.

Astronomers have quelled rumors of natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and beastly attacks occurring during Supermoons.

Though our celestial neighbor’s closest approach to earth may raise tidal waters a few centimeters, it is not likely to trigger any catastrophic events.

Apart from sighting the stunning big bright supermoon this month, sky gazers will be treated to a new moon and a partial solar eclipse on May 20 and Venus will be visible just north of the moon on May 21.