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Supermoon: when to see it in all its glory

This weekend the moon reaches its full phase while also reaching the nearest-Earth position of its orbit, creating views of a 'supermoon.' It's a rare astronomical treat.

By Staff writer / June 22, 2013

A full moon rose behind the Empire State Building in New York last year in this view from Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange, N.J. This weekend the moon reaches its full phase while also reaching the nearest-Earth position of its orbit.

Julio Cortez/AP

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This weekend offers a rare start-of-summer treat: a “supermoon” in which the moon reaches its full phase while also reaching the nearest-Earth position of its orbit.

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The result: a bigger, brighter full moon than we’re accustomed to.

So you might want to grab another summer treat (ice cream? strawberries?) and gaze outward or upward to take in the view.

When is best?

One answer is: whenever a clear sky gives you an opening and, of course, the moon is out. The moon is at its fullest on Sunday, but Saturday or Monday or even Tuesday will also offer close-to-full moons.

An ideal time for viewing can be around moonrise, when a view juxtaposed against the horizon can make the moon look bigger and more colorful (an optical illusion caused by Earth’s atmosphere).

Moonrise times this weekend vary across the country and around the world. But here are some reference points that may help.

On Saturday in the US, many cities will see the moon come up around 8 p.m. local time. In some places it’s a little before 8: Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Washington. In some places it’s a little after: Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, Seattle. You can look up exact times for your location at the US Naval Observatory website.

Around the rest of the world, many major cities have similar moonrise times, but some come as much as a couple of hours earlier (notably in the Southern hemisphere) or after 9 p.m. (for some northerly cities).

For Sunday, you can add about 50 minutes to Saturday’s times. Or again, for precise times you can check in with the US Naval Observatory.

Happy viewing!

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