Okay, so "super" might be overdoing it a little bit. Saturday's much-hyped lunar flyby is actually pretty common event.
According to the guy who says he actually named this phenomenon there are 4 to 6 "supermoons" every year. He's Richard Nolle and he is an astrologer (fortune teller), not an astronomer (scientist), which is why you might not find many guys in white lab coats calling the event coming up Saturday night a "supermoon."
Scientists prefer to call these events perigee-syzygy. Perigee (PEAR-ih-gee) is the point in the moon's oval shaped orbit when it's closest to the Earth, and syzygy (SIZ-ih-gee) is what astronomers call it when three celestial bodies (like the moon, sun and Earth) all line up. In this case, that 'lining up' results in a full moon.
Whatever you call it... the full moon and the moon's closest pass to Earth this year happen the weekend.
You can believe some of the hype surrounding this supermoon because it actually is more super than most. Perigee and syzygy will happen within two minutes of each other. The Moon will be in perigee at 11:34 p.m. ET and by 11:35 p.m., it will officially be full. Timing that close is pretty rare. For example, last year's supermoon on March 19 happened over the course of an hour, and next year on June 23, perigee and syzygy will be about 20 minutes apart (we used this chart to figure this stuff out). So if you are a supermoon purist, this is almost as good as it gets.
How good? NASA says this year's supermoon will appear to be about 14% larger and 30% brighter than your average full moon. 14% larger? What does that mean? How big is that? We're glad you asked:
And here's how to take a 14% better picture of the Supermoon: Shoot it when it's low on the horizon. Trees and buildings in the foreground help define the size. Big moon behind big building equals picture of huge moon. Like, WOW. Big moon all alone in the sky equals picture of white dot on a black background. Yawn.
If you do get a great shot, make sure you upload it to iReport.com. You might see it featured on HLN!