Super Moon May 2012
Super Moon May 2012, The month of May looks to be a promising one for skywatchers around the world, with the largest full moon of the year – a so-called “supermoon” – kicking things off this weekend. But the moon is just one of several tantalizing sky events this month, which include a meteor shower from Halley’s comet and the first solar eclipse of the year.
The skywatching action starts with a celestial double-feature. On Saturday and Sunday (May 5- 6) a “supermoon” of 2012 and the Eta Aquarid meteor shower will both hit their peak.
While the bright full moon could interfere with the Eta Aquarid meteor display, some of the shower’s brightest fireballs should still be visible late Saturday and early Sunday, NASA scientists say.
Then, on May 20, the moon will pass in front of the sun but not completely block it, creating what scientists call an annular solar eclipse. Parts of the eclipse will be visible from much of North America, though the western U.S. states are in prime position for the best viewing experiences, according to SPACE.com skywatching columnist Geoff Gaherty.
Here’s a look at some of the month’s most promising night sky observing events and the solar eclipse:
“Supermoon” is the nickname for a full moon that coincides with the moon’s arrival at perigee – the point in its orbit that brings it closest to Earth for the month. Perigees occur because the moon’s orbit around Earth is not a perfect circle. Instead, it’s an ellipse in which the nearest point to Earth is about 31,000miles (50,000 kilometers) closer than the moon’s farthest point (called apogee).
When the moon is in its full phase and at perigee, it can appear much brighter and slightly larger than the average full moon. Scientists call this event a “perigee moon.” (Huffington Post)