A “supermoon” will be visible in the night sky this weekend as the full moon comes closer to Earth than at any other point this year.
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On Saturday the lunar perigee – the point at which the Moon comes nearer to Earth than usual due to it’s egg-shaped orbit – will coincide with a full moon, an event that happens about once a year.
It will result in an impressive display, particularly just after sunset when the moon will appear richly coloured and noticeably larger than normal above the horizon.
At its closest point the moon will be 222,000 miles (357,000km) from Earth, causing high and low tides to be slightly more extreme than usual.
Dr Robert Massey, of the Royal Astronomical Society, said the event would be clearly noticeable to the naked eye, but that its impact on Earth would be minimal.
“You will notice that the moon looks significantly bigger than usual, and it will mean a slightly wider tidal range than normal,” he said.
A Met Office spokesperson said the clearest skies this weekend – offering the best chance of seeing the spectacle – would be in the east midlands stretching down along the east coast to Norfolk, and on the west coast over northern Cornwall and Somerset.
Astronomers emphasised that fears which are often raised about “supermoons” – a term coined in the 1970s to describe such events – coinciding with natural disasters are entirely unfounded.
Geza Gyuk, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, told the National Geographic: “While we know that during new and full moons the tides are greatest — and if it’s in concert with a storm surge it might produce unusual flooding — there is no scientific evidence that earthquakes and other natural disasters are connected.
“Supermoons have been happening for billions of years, and nothing particularly special occurs on these dates — except, of course, for a beautiful full moon.”
The moon will look about 16 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than other full moons this year, he added.