7 Things to Know about Saturday’s Super Moon

  @jotfields on

The planet's one and only moon is entering its full phase and it is about to make a dramatic show this Saturday. The lonely satellite will look like a super moon to people who could catch it at the right time.

Here are seven things you need to know about the super moon of 2012:

1. The technical term for a super moon is perigee-syzygy, whereas perigee pertains to the moon's closest approach to Earth, and syzygy refers to the alignment of the moon, Earth and the sun.

2. The moon can only be a super moon when it is in its "new" or "full" phase. This year, the super moon is a full moon, making it ideal for astronomy-photography enthusiasts and night sky gazers.

3. There are 4-6 super moons every year, but the last "extreme" super moon was on March 19, 2011, also a full moon. Scientists said the moon was only 356,575 km away from the human's blue planet. It was extreme in the sense that the moon has made its closest approach relative to the average recorded data.

4. The term "super moon" was coined by astrologer and writer Richard Nolle in 1979. One of his most recent print articles on the super moon was published in the October-November 2007 issue of The Mountain Astrologer. He used the term in a 1979 article for Horoscope magazine of Dell Publishing Company. Mr Nolle has earlier said that the Earth is more prone to natural disasters within ±3 days of a super moon. (Follow this link for the story.)

5. Do super moons really have adverse effects to the planet? The super moon of 2011 became controversial for coinciding with the Tōhoku earthquake, which triggered a large-scale tsunami. The speculation, however, was dismissed by Nasa. In the UK, there were reports that the super moon grounded five ships in the shipping lanes of Solent. Coastguards reportedly believed that the ships crashed into sandbanks exposed by the force of the moon, so the ships had to wait for high tide to get things back to normal.

6. To take a stunning photo of the moon in its "super" approach, it is best to frame the moon during its rise from the horizon, behind a structure, perhaps a building or a tree, to highlight its unusually bigger size. (See photos below.)

7. The phase of full moon this month will be complete at 11:35 p.m. EDT on Saturday. It will be 3:35 p.m. in New Zealand and 1:00 p.m. in Australia on Sunday. The moon will still put on a stunning show even a night after the super moon's exact arrival. The key to creating a historic shot, as mentioned above, is finding an image that will conrast against the moon while it is rising on the horizon.