March 19 will be a good day for photographers and astronomers. The moon will be the biggest, fullest it has been for 18 years. This point of the moons orbit – where it is closest to Earth – is known as the Lunar Perigee.
While this is common, this closeness happens every 9 years, it doesn’t often coincide with a full moon. As long as there is a clear sky in your neighborhood get ready for a big moon. Even with binoculars or a good zoom lens on your camera you will be able to see incredible detail.
A combination of effects have aligned to put this show on for us all. The elliptical orbit of the moon – it’s sometimes called our Eccentric Companion – along with Earths elliptical orbit and the gravitational effects of the sun mean the moon will be 30,000km closer to earth than usual – normally it’s 354,000km from earth.
This combined with the full moon makes this a show worth checking out. “It’s only every few years that a full moon happens to coincide with the part of the Moon’s orbit when its closest to the Earth,” said Marek Kukula, an astronomer at the UK’s Royal Observatory.
The effect will be most obvious when the moon is near the horizon, either setting or coming up. “When it’s close to the horizon, our brain interprets it as being bigger than it actually is, this is called the moon illusion,” Dr Kukula said. These will be the best times to get photo’s, if we’re really lucky and the atmosphere is just right you may also get a red color to the moon – caused when the moon is near the horizon and the atmosphere filters much of the blue light out.