A "supermoon" will rise over the Southland Saturday night, and will be 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than other full moons of 2012, according to Dr. James Garvin, chief scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, who explains the phenomenon on NASA's website.
A "supermoon"—a term coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979—occurs when the moon's orbit reaches its closest point to the earth. This moon will be extra super, though, because it will also be "gloriously full" at the same time, Garvin said (Watch the video above).
A Wikipedia item says the term supermoon "is not widely accepted or used within the astronomy or scientific community, who prefer the term perigee-syzygy." But who wants to try pronouncing that?
The best time to photograph a supermoon is when the planet is low on the earth's horizon.
"For reasons not fully understood by astronomers or psychologists, low-hanging moons look unnaturally large when they beam through trees, buildings and other foreground objects," Garvin said.
Before you get too excited, though, be aware that the difference between this supermoon and other full moons may not be particularly discernable to the casual observer.
Dr. Ed Krupp of the Griffith Observatory spoke about the phenomenon on CBS's KNX 1070 Newsradio. Krupp said that the moon will not look that much different than normal.
“It is a little closer, it is a little brighter, but the eye is really not able to detect the difference,” Krupp said.
If you're planning on hosting a lunar viewing party, start looking to the horizon for “a pretty spectacular moonrise,” said Anthony Cook, an astronomical observer at the . The moon actually won't become totally full until 8:35 p.m., he said, and it then will be perigee, or super, at 8:40 p.m.
If you would like to see the supermoon with an unobscured view, Griffith Observatory is open to the public until 10 p.m. Saturday, with telescopes available until 9:30 p.m. The telescopes will also be available to see Saturn’s rings.
Cloudless skies are best for viewing, of course. The skies above West Hollywood will be mostly clear Saturday night, according to the National Weather Service.
Will you be watching the supermoon Saturday? Share your photos in the photo gallery above, and your thoughts in the comments box below!