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article image'Supermoon' provides rare spectacle for 7 billion people Special

By Andrew Moran     Mar 19, 2011 in Science
Toronto - Professional and amateur stargazers gathered in empty spaces around the globe to watch the moon light up the sky Saturday night. The Earth's guardian appeared approximately 14 percent bigger and more than 30 percent brighter.
The moon is the fifth largest satellite in the solar system and has been labelled by ancient civilizations as Earth’s protector, or guardian if you will. Its origins haven’t conclusively been identified, but there are several theories and even those cannot hold ground because of many aspects that contradict them.
Despite the debate, the moon provides the Earth’s inhabitants with beautiful light on a nightly basis – weather permitting.
On Saturday night, seven billion people will be thousands of miles closer to the moon; 31,000 miles (49,889 kilometres) to be exact. The average distance from the moon to the Earth is 238,857 miles (384,392 kilometres). The last time the “supermoon” was this close to our planet was March 8, 1993 and the next time it will occur will be in 2029.
The term “supermoon” was first used in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle when he defined this rare occurrence as when the moon is slightly closer to the Earth on its orbit.
During this phenomenon, the super perigee moon will appear almost 14 percent larger and approximately 30 percent brighter at its peak.
“'Supermoon' is a situation when the moon is slightly closer to Earth in its orbit than on average, and this effect is most noticeable when it occurs at the same time as a full moon,” said chief scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “So, the moon may seem bigger although the difference in its distance from Earth is only a few percent at such times.”
There have been numerous reports circulating the Internet that due to the moon’s close proximity to our planet, there will be natural disasters occurring. Last week, scientists debunked the theory that the “supermoon” caused Japan’s devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami, reports ABC News.
NAS confirmed this week that such natural disasters will not occur due to the “supermoon,” although tides are expected to be higher, but by only approximately six inches, reports Digital Trends.
As of 9:30 p.m. EST, there have been no reports of any natural disasters on Earth.
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