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'Super Full Moon' this weekend

'Super Full Moon' this weekend
The dazzling full moon sets behind the Very Large Telescope in Chile's Atacama Desert in this photo released June 7, 2010 by the European Southern Observatory. The moon appears larger than normal due to an optical illusion of perspective. (Photo: European Southern Observatory (CC License))

This weekend, skies permitting, will be quite a lunar show that only happens, well, a little less often than once in a Blue Moon.

On March 19, the moon will be at its closest point to Earth (called "perigee") as it makes its elliptical orbit around our planet. No biggie, that happens every month. But what makes this month so special is it is coinciding just 50 minutes before the full moon.

What does that mean? The moon will not only be at its closest point to the Earth but also at its fullest, making for what many will see is a large full moon, although really it's not all *that* much larger. According to NASA (, the moon looks about 14% larger at its closest point then when it's at its farthest point of its monthly orbit.

These near perfect confluence of factors happen about once every 18 years, last occurring in March of 1993, NASA said.

The moon might look artificially super large when it is on the horizon as it's both setting and rising just before and after sunset. That's due to the mysterious moon illusion where full moons near the horizon apparently trick the human eye into making it look larger than it is -- an effect that will be enhanced this weekend. Scientists have yet to explain how the illusion works, but suffice to say "object on horizon may appear close than it really is."

Does this mean we're doomed?

Several rumors are abound that super moons will create widespread natural disasters on Earth. But NASA says there is no correlation. The super moon passed in 1993 with nary a problem, they also point out. As we mentioned earlier the moon is this close to the planet every month, it's just a coincidence this time around it's coming at full moon.

You can find out more about Super Moons on this NASA Science Cast:

And if you do manage to capture some great full moon shots, we'd love to see it! You can submit it to our YouNews site

By the way, the weather is somewhat promising for much of the Pacific Northwest with only partly cloudy skies expected Saturday night.