LOS ANGELES – According to NASA’s calculations, tonight is when the moon will hit your eye like a big pizza pie, to paraphrase Dean Martin. It’s “supermoon” time.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is letting its enthusiasm show in a new video on the subject. “The timing is almost perfect,” it notes. At 8:34 p.m. Pacific time, May’s full moon will reach perigee – the closest point to Earth in its elliptical pattern – and “only one minute later, the moon will line up with the Earth and the sun to become gloriously full.”
For a bunch of scientists, that’s pretty poetic talk.
The moon will appear 14 percent larger than other full moons of 2012. “The swollen orb rising in the East at sunset will seem super indeed.”
Anthony Cook, astronomical observer at Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory, is a little more measured in his view of the upcoming phenomenon.
It will be 30 percent brighter, yes, but that’s 30 percent brighter than the moon is when it is at apogee – the farthest point in its elliptical orbit around the Earth – he said.
“I’m a little skeptical that most people would casually see that this full moon looks huge compared to the one that rises six months from now,” he said. “You’re talking about a fairly small size difference in something that’s already small.”