Supermoon predicted to dominate the night sky Saturday

Friday, June 21, 2013 | 7:39 p.m. CDT; updated 11:41 a.m. CDT, Saturday, June 22, 2013

COLUMBIA — On Saturday, you won’t just see a piece of the moon, you will get the whole pie, supersized.

Once a year the moon aligns with a specific point called the lunar perigee — the point where the moon is nearest to the Earth. This year’s perigee moon not only will be near, but also full. The phenomenon, commonly dubbed a “supermoon,” promises to be quite a treat for those who enjoy sky-gazing.

“It really is spectacular,” Central Missouri Astronomy Association member Val Germann said. “You can tell that it is bigger, especially if you compare it to a full moon in December.”

The moon will appear 14 percent larger than a typical full moon. The best time to gawk will be at moonrise, which will be 7:52 p.m. Saturday, and at moonset, which is 6:02 a.m. Sunday.

At 99.8 percent illumination, the supermoon will be impossible to miss for those who are outdoors. And it would be a shame to miss it. The next chance to see the moon this close won't come until August 2014. predicts Columbia will have mostly clear skies during the supermoon, but those farther north might have trouble, given that rain and thunderstorms are predicted to move through the upper Midwest.

To get the best panorama possible, Germann suggests taking in the view from the upper picnic area of Rock Bridge Memorial State Park or going to the top of the Hitt Street Garage. For the best effect, he said, try magnifying the moon even more.

“It is most fun to watch it through binoculars,” Germann said.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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