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Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 10:38 pm | Fair 48º


Super Moon Lights Up the Sky over Santa Barbara County

Bigger, brighter lunar phenomenon doesn't disappoint as moon makes closest pass at Earth

A crystal-clear sky Saturday night gave Santa Barbara County residents a full view of the biggest and brightest full moon of 2012.

Saturday’s moon was a “super moon”, which scientists say is as much as 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than usual.

The phenomenon is a result of the elliptical orbit the moon follows around the Earth. On Saturday night, the moon passed within 221,802 miles of Earth, reaching its closest point at 8:34 p.m. One minute later, it lined up with the Earth and the sun to become full.

The appearance was just a phase, however, and within two weeks the moon will be at its farthest point from Earth, around 252,000 miles away. The average distance between the Earth and its moon is about 230,000 miles.

The last super moon, also known as a perigee moon, occurred on March 19, 2011. A super moon can have an effect on tidal patterns, and unusually high and low tides are expected this weekend and into the new week.

The super moon wasn’t the only reason to skywatch Saturday night. The annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower was expected to hit its peak Saturday night and continue through Monday night. As many as 60 meteors an hour may be visible from the shower, which is created by dust from Halley’s comet on its own 76-year orbit around the sun.

Click here to view the Eta Aquarid meteor shower remotely via NASA’s all-sky cameras.

Email your super moon photos to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Noozhawk publisher Bill Macfadyen can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Saturday's 'super moon' rises over Stearns Wharf in the Santa Barbara Harbor.
Saturday’s “super moon” rises over Stearns Wharf in the Santa Barbara Harbor. (Sue Cook photo)

At 221,802 miles away, the super moon was at its closest point to Earth on Saturday night.
At 221,802 miles away, the super moon was at its closest point to Earth on Saturday night. (Jon Shafer photo / www.santabarbarasurfer.com)

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