'Supermoon' to brighten night sky Sunday

  • The bottom row shows "supermoons" appearing 10 percent larger than normal moons.
The bottom row shows "supermoons" appearing 10… (Lee Haywood, via Wikimedia…)
June 21, 2013|By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

The Full Strawberry Moon arrives Sunday, and it will be a "supermoon" appearing larger than many other full moons.

A supermoon is a full moon that coincides with the moon's perigee, or the point in its orbit at which it's closest to Earth. While the nickname makes it sound extraordinary, supermoons actually occur every year.

They can appear more dramatic, however -- 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than when the moon is at apogee, furthest from Earth, according to EarthSky.org.

"These changes do not come all of a sudden from month to month, however, and without anything with which to compare them, the changes in the moon’s size or brightness are hard to quantify by simple observation," EarthSky adds.

Other recent supermoons occurred in May 2012 and March 2011.

Partly cloudy skies are forecast for Sunday night, keeping the moon visible overhead. The moon will be out all night, rising at 8:48 p.m. and setting at 5:55 a.m. Monday.

The moon technically reaches its "fullest" phase well before that, though, at 7:33 a.m. Sunday. That means Saturday night's moon could be equally impressive.

Other names for June's full moon include the Rose Moon and the Flower Moon.

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