Tonight’s sky will be lit up not only with the party lights of a thousand Cinco de Mayo revelers, but also, a natural luminescence from the once-a-year supermoon.
The supermoon will be most visible, bright and impressive at 11:35 PM, at the official start of the full moon phase. Due to the fact that the moon orbits in an egg-shaped rotation, the event will cause it to appear momentarily far more impressive than it normally does.
Nat Geo spoke with astronomers about the coming event, which they described as a “beautiful sky show.” (It’s kind of disheartening the mag had to underscore the fact that the supermoon isn’t “dangerous.”) During the unusually close orbit, the supermoon will be 221,801 miles (356,955 kilometers) from Earth, resulting in the stunning display of lunar proximity.
Geza Gyuk is an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, and Gyuk explained the what amateur skygazers can expect at the supermoon’s peak brightness:
“As a consequence, this translates into it appearing as much as 16 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than other full moons of 2012—not a huge amount, but definitely noticeable.”
Gyuk also reassures readers that the event won’t affect Earthlings all that much:
“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.”
Gyuk adds that the moon is going to again be very close to the Earth next month- not as close, but those who miss tonight’s event due to weather or sleep can see another impressive moon in June.