NEW YORK - The biggest and brightest full moon of the year arrives Saturday night as our celestial neighbor passes closer to Earth than usual.
But don't expect any "must-have-been-a-full-moon" spike in crime or crazy behavior. That's just folklore.
Saturday's event is a "supermoon," the closest and therefore the biggest and brightest full moon of the year. At 11:34 p.m., the moon will be about 221,802 miles from Earth. That's about 15,300 miles closer than average.
This 2011 photo shows a full moon over Pembroke, N.Y. at its closest point to the Earth since March 1993. The biggest and brightest full moon of the year arrives tonight as our celestial neighbor passes closer to Earth than usual.
That proximity will make the moon appear about 14 percent bigger than it would if the moon were at its farthest distance, said Geoff Chester of the U.S. Naval Observatory. The difference in appearance is so small that "you'd be very hard-pressed to detect that with the unaided eye," he said.
The moon's distance from Earth varies because it follows an elliptical orbit rather than a circular one.
Like any full moon, the supermoon will look bigger when it's on or near the horizon rather than higher in the sky, thanks to an optical illusion, Chester noted. The full moon appears on the horizon at sunset. On the East coast, for example, that will be a bit before 8 p.m. Saturday.
The supermoon will bring unusually high tides because of its closeness and its alignment with the sun and Earth, but the effect will be modest, Chester said.
The last supermoon, on March 19, 2011, was about 240 miles closer than this year's will be. Next year's will be a bit farther away than this year's.