Largest full moon for 15 years to illuminate tonight's sky

Posted on 3:45 AM by Sameer Shah

If the shortening days are getting you down, be sure to catch a glimpse of tonight's striking full moon.

It will appear 14 per cent bigger than usual and a stunning 30 per cent brighter thanks to a rare, natural coincidence.

Each month the moon orbits the Earth and tonight it will skim by at its closest distance for the last 15 years.

The moon will pass a mere 356,613 km away from us - 28,000 km closer than normal.

The 15-year spectacular will occur as the moon's perigee - the closest point that it passes Earth - coincides with the full moon.

Star gazers will not be disappointed, as long as clouds do not block the view.

If bad weather does get in the way, they will have to wait for another eight years - until November 14, 2016 - for the next close encounter.

And there are other reasons that sets tonight apart on the lunar calendar.

The country will also be treated to a strange phenomenon known as the moon illusion which makes the moon look larger.

As it rises this afternoon, the moon will appear to be bigger as it is closer to the horizon.

Tonight’s event will also see a slightly higher tide as the moon comes closer to the Earth with the water level rising by 0.5m (1.6ft).

This may lead to flooding, particularly along the South-West’s coast.

With the approach of the winter solstice on December 21, combined with the current tilt of the Earth, the moon will also climb to its highest point in the night's sky for the entire year.

And the phenomenon coincides with the annual Geminid meteor shower which begins tonight and continues for two days.

The 'shooting stars' will appear from the constellation Gemini but be seen all over the sky.

But with the brightness of the moon, stargazers are recommended to look away.

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