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Supermoon spectacular coming Monday


Skywatchers and astronomy enthusiasts will be treated to a special sight before returning to work Monday: a much-anticipated supermoon.

The full moon will not only be larger than usual, but also will be the closest full moon to Earth since 1948. The world won’t witness another supermoon like this until 2034, according to NASA.

“The moon is going to be about as bright and about as big as the moon can be,” said Andrew Fraknoi, chairman of the astronomy department at Foothill College.

The moon’s orbit around Earth is an elliptical shape, making the moon closest to our planet on certain occasions. When it’s full as it makes its closest path to Earth, it’s known as a supermoon.

Fraknoi said the event has stirred up some unsubstantiated fears, but said that’s simply “hype.”

“People are saying terrible things are going to happen and that there will be earthquakes and floods,” he said. “There’s no indication of that at all. The moon will just be doing it’s regular thing.”

The moon officially becomes full Monday at 5:52 a.m. Pacific time. It won’t be visible on the East Coast at the exact moment of fullness, but it will be on the West Coast.

The distance between Earth and the moon can range from 221,208 miles at its closest possible point to 252,898 miles at its farthest. This month, it gets close at 221,524 miles between Earth and the moon – just 316 miles from the closest it can get to our planet.

Still not sure when to peek out the window to catch a glimpse?

Take some advice from Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission.

“I’ve been telling people to go out at night on either Sunday or Monday night to see the supermoon,” Petro said in a NASA statement. “The difference in distance from one night to the next will be very subtle, so if it’s cloudy on Sunday, go out on Monday. Any time after sunset should be fine. Since the moon is full, it’ll rise at nearly the same time as sunset, so I’d suggest that you head outside after sunset, or once it’s dark and the moon is a bit higher in the sky. You don’t have to stay up all night to see it, unless you really want to!”

The supermoon will also bring with it extremely high tides – the result of the moon’s gravity and the sun being so close to Earth.

It’s expected that tides will be even higher during supermoons because the moon is closer to Earth. Fraknoi said the tides would only become dangerous in the event of a big storm – which is not in the forecast.

The Washington Post contributed to this report.

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