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Largest full moon of the year will be visible on May 6

Peep outside your window on Sunday evening and catch a glimpse of the ‘supermoon’ – when the moon will be at its biggest and brightest. Payoshaa Shah reports.
By Payoshaa Shah | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAY 05, 2012 01:22 AM IST

Peep outside your window on Sunday evening and catch a glimpse of the ‘supermoon’ – when the moon will be at its biggest and brightest.


On Sunday, the moon will be closer to the earth than it is on any other night in the year, and therefore appear significantly larger to the naked eye. The phenomenon is called supermoon. Sunday also happens to be Buddha Purnima.

A supermoon is a result of the elliptical orbit of the moon, which rotates around the earth. In an elliptical orbit, the distance between the earth and moon fluctuates and the apparent size of the moon as viewed from earth also changes.

For city residents, the supermoon will be visible before the moonset in the wee hours of Sunday morning and after moonrise in the evening of the same day. At 9.05pm on May 6, the distance between the moon and earth will be 3,56,955 kms, the closest it will be to the earth this year.

“The beach is the best place to witness the supermoon,” said Arvind Paranjpye, director of the Nehru Planetarium at Worli. On May 6, the city will be able to see the moon before 5.59am and again after 7.27pm.

In contrast, the full moon on November 28 will be the farthest from the earth this year when the distance between the earth and the moon will be 4,06,349 km.

“The full moon on November 28 will be 11% smaller than the full moon on May 6. “Though it is hard to perceive the apparent change in size as the two events are months apart, the comparison will be striking,” said Paranjpye adding that enthusiasts can take digital photographs of the moon on May 6 and November 28 for to actually discern the difference.

Paranjpye said it is safe to view the celestial phenomenon with the naked eye. "There is no evidence to suggest that there is a co-relation between natural disasters and super-moon,” said Paranjpye, dispelling myths surrounding the lunar event.

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