Big beautiful moon takes to skies on Saturday
Moon will reach its perigee or closest approach to Earth
This Saturday on May 5) at 11:35 p.m., the moon will officially become
full. After 25 minutes, the moon will also arrive at perigee, its
closest approach to Earth at a distance of 221,802 miles away.
This Saturday on May 5) at 11:35 p.m., the moon will officially become full. After 25 minutes, the moon will also arrive at perigee, its closest approach to Earth at a distance of 221,802 miles away.
May's perigee is the closest of any perigee in 2012. The result will be a 16 percent brighter-than-average full moon accompanied by unusually high and low tides this weekend and into the new week.
Later this year, on November 28, the full moon will closely coincide with apogee, the moon's farthest point from Earth.
Every month, "spring" tides occur when the moon is full and new, "spring," in this case, is derived from the German springen, to "spring up," not as is often mistaken as a reference to the spring season. At these times the moon and sun form a line with Earth, so their tidal effects add together.
The sun, because of its distance, exerts a little less than half the tidal force of the moon.
"Neap" tides, on the other hand, occur at those times when the moon is at first and last quarter and work at cross-purposes with the sun. At these times, tides are weak.
Tidal force along the shorelines varies as the inverse cube of an object's distance. During the supermoon on Saturday, the moon will be 12.2 percent closer at perigee than it will be two weeks later at apogee, which will nearly coincide with a new moon.
The moon will exert 42 percent more tidal force during this weekend's spring tides than during the spring tides near apogee two weeks later.
Although a full moon lasts just a moment, that moment is imperceptible to ordinary observation. For a day or so before and after, most will speak of seeing the nearly full moon as "full." The attendant shaded strip is so narrow, changing width so slowly, that it is hard for the naked eye to tell whether it is present or on which side it is.
Saturday also marks the midpoint of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. The exact moment between the March equinox and the June solstice occurs at 10:11 a.m. EDT May 5. And this spring's big full moon seemingly places an exclamation point on this seasonal benchmark.
The full moon of May is most commonly known as the "Flower Moon" since flowers are now abundant most everywhere. It is also known as the Full Corn Planting Moon or the Milk Moon.
Happy sky watching!
© 2012, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Moon, perigee, spring, sky watching
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