Super moon spectacle will light up skies tonight at Stonehenge (but there’s no need to worry about a rise in lunacy)

19 03 2011

Tonight’s event will be the closest full moon in almost 20 years

Keep your fingers crossed for clear skies tonight – a full moon of rare size and beauty will rise in the east at sunset.

The natural phenomenon happens when the full Moon coincides with when it travels closest to Earth on its orbit.

‘The last full Moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993,’ said Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC.

Full Moons vary in size because of the elliptical (or oval) shape of the Moon’s orbit. At its furthest point (the apogee) it is around 252,731miles away from us, but it is only around 226,426miles at its closest point (the perigee).

So nearby perigee moons, like the one we will see tonight, is around 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than lesser moons that occur on the apogee side of the moon’s orbit.

However, it will be difficult to detect the change once the moon is high in the sky as the human eye is unble to put it in context without any nearby objects to compare it to.

Therefore the most impressive view of the moon will be seen when it is close to the horizon due to the ‘moon illusion’. It appears larger as you will automatically compare it to the hills and houses nearby.

‘I’d say it’s worth a look and so close to the Spring Equinox

Sponsors:  The Stonehenge Tour Company

Merlin @ Stonehenge (Happy Equinox)

The Stonehenge Stone Circle Website

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