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Look Up in the Sky: A Trio of Spectacular Super Moons this Summer

The Moon will appear 14 percent brighter and 30 percent larger this weekend, but don’t worry if you’re not out to see it. The “extra-super Moon” is still a few weeks in the future, NASA says.

Saturday's won't be the brightest in a trio of supermoons gracing the summer skies. For that, sky watchers will have to wait until August. But July's full Moon will appear bigger and brighter. (Photo: NASA)
Saturday's won't be the brightest in a trio of supermoons gracing the summer skies. For that, sky watchers will have to wait until August. But July's full Moon will appear bigger and brighter. (Photo: NASA)

This weekend’s full Moon is the first of three so-called “Super Moons” in a row, so if clouds cover the spectacular lunar event, you’ll have two more chances to marvel at its luminosity.

Super Moon, sometimes spelled Supermoon as one word, is a relatively new term to describe the phenomenon, which scientists call a “perigee Moon,” NASA said.

This month, the Moon will be exactly full at 7:25 a.m. EDT Saturday, so it will appear especially large when it rises in the eastern sky around 7 p.m. EDT.

» If you’re out shooting the Super Moon with your camera, upload your photos on the boards or in a blog.

» Watch “ScienceCasts: A Summer of Supermoons” from NASA

The Super Moon phrase gained popularity in 2013 when the full Moon appeared 14 percent larger and 30 percent larger, the Weather Network said, but it was actually coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979, when he explained it as:

“A new or full moon which occurs with the Moon at or near (within 90 of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit (perigee). In short, Earth, Moon and Sun are all in a line, with Moon in its nearest approach to Earth."

In other words, the Moon appears especially large and bright because the moment of the perigee – when the Moon is closest to the Earth in its monthly rotation – coincides with the appearance of a perfectly full Moon.

In still other words, it's big, bright, beautiful and photo-worthy.

The phenomenon will occur three times this summer – this weekend, and then again on Aug. 10 and Sept. 10. The largest-appearing of the three Super Moons will be in August, the Washington Post says. The newspaper said Mars and Saturn might also show up in Super Moon photos.

“On August 10th it becomes full during the same hour as perigee—arguably making it an extra-super Moon,” NASA said.

The Farmers’ Almanac says July’s full Moon is also known as a  Full Buck Moon because the antlers of male deer push out of their foreheads. Some other terms to describe July’s full Moon include Full Thunder Moon because thunderstorms are frequent in the middle of the summer, and Full Hay Moon.

The August  and September full moons are sometimes called, respectively, the Full Sturgeon Moon and.  Full Harvest Moon, Universe Today says.

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