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Brightest, biggest full moon of the year

‘SUPERMOON’ The moon rises behind a helicopter from the original Batman television show, which people may ride at the New Jersey State Fair in East Rutherford. A “supermoon” was expected to be 13.5-percent closer to earth on Sunday. AP

Forget about the myths that swirl every time a “supermoon” appears. There’s no link to higher crime or bizarre behavior. Scientists say that’s just lunacy.

The biggest and brightest full moon of the year—called the supermoon—graced the sky Sunday night.

The moon came within 357,000 kilometers of earth and turned full at 7:32 p.m. over the Philippines.

Over Metro Manila, the supermoon hid behind rain clouds, disappointing sky gazers.

But weather bureau observers said the supermoon was seen in other parts of the country.

“Provinces where there was no rain caught a glimpse of the supermoon,” weather bureau observer Rex Guerrero told the Inquirer.

The earth’s celestial neighbor appeared Sunday night 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than normal. It loomed larger on the horizon next to trees and buildings.

While most sky watchers may not have noticed the difference with the naked eye, astronomers said it was still worth looking up and appreciating the cosmos.

“It gets people out there looking at the moon, and might make a few more people aware that there’s interesting stuff going on in the night sky,” Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory said in an e-mail.

As in any supermoon event, high tides were forecast because of the moon’s proximity, but the effect was expected to be small.

The supermoon appears several times a year but on Sunday night it was at its nearest distance to earth, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

The average distance of the moon from the planet is about 386,000 kilometers, Pagasa Space Sciences and Astronomy Section observer Ed Lagoc told the Inquirer.

Lagoc said that while the moon affected tides, there was no relation between a person’s behavior and the supermoon.

“There is no scientific basis to say the moon affects a person’s mind in any way. It is just a myth,” he said.

He described the effect of the supermoon on the tide as “negligible,” adding that if there was any effect at all, the tide would only be higher from the average by inches.

Lagoc said a slightly higher tide as a result of the earth’s gravitational pull on the moon at its perigee would hardly be noticed.

Lagoc also said there was nothing supernatural about a supermoon as it was a normal celestial event because of the moon’s orbit around the earth.

“A supermoon happens several times in a year, the only difference this time is that the moon is at its nearest distance to the planet for the year and would appear much larger,” he explained.

He said a similar phenomenon happened on May 6 last year.

Those who missed Sunday night’s phenomenon can wait for the next supermoon—on Aug. 10 next year.—Reports from AP and Jeannette I. Andrade in Manila

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Tags: astronomy , Philippines , Supermoon

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