A supermoon will appear this Saturday

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Here's When to Catch This Fall's 3 Supermoons

There's an especially large and bright full moon coming out this Saturday night. So, if you want an exceptionally good look at some of the stunning features on the lunar surface, Saturday will be the time to see them.

One of the easiest features to spot, called the Tycho crater and shown in the photo below, will be worth a look, wrote Tim Hunter for the Arizona Daily Star:

FullMoon2010Gregory H. Revera on Wikipedia

We call these slightly larger versions of our full moon supermoons, and they can appear between 12% to 14% larger and shine 25-30 times brighter, according to TimeandDate.com

While the physical moon will not actually grow in size, it will appear bigger in the night sky because it is slightly closer to Earth than normal. Below is a photo that shows a supermoon on the right compared to an average full moon on the left:

Supermoon_comparisonGregory H. Revera on Wikipedia

Whenever any celestial body reaches its closest approach to Earth -- whether it is the moon, Mars, or a comet -- astronomers call that moment perigee.

The moon reaches perigee about once every time it completes its elliptical orbit around Earth, which takes about 27 days. On average, the moon is 238,800 miles from Earth, but at perigee it is 225,804 miles away.

Although the moon reaches perigee regularly, that doesn't mean that once every 27 days, we're treated to a supermoon, like this one from 2013 showing the supermoon rising above the Umaid Bhawan Palace:

supermoonGregory H. Revera on WikipediaA supermoon can only happen when two events line up in time: perigee and a full moon. (You can also have a supermoon during a new moon, but we cannot see new moons, so the event would be anti-climatic, to say the least.)

This magical alignment, shown in the illustration below, only happens between three to four times a year, according to EarthSky.org.

And as it turns out, we'll have a pretty close match this weekend: The moon will be fullest at exactly 2:35 p.m. ET on Saturday, Aug. 29 and reach perigee the next day, about 20 hours later, at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, Aug. 30, according to Space.com.

supermoonGregory H. Revera on Wikipedia

How close these two events line up in time helps determine how brilliant of a supermoon we can see. However, there's another factor that comes into play, which has to do with the moon's orbit.

Perigee is not a concrete number: it changes every lunar orbit. So, the distance the moon is to Earth at perigee for one orbit can be slightly larger or smaller than during another orbit.

For example, the moon's perigee this month will bring it to exactly 222,631 miles from Earth. But next month, on Sept. 28, perigee will happen when the moon is even closer: 221,753 miles from Earth.

Take look at last year's supermoon:

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A supermoon will appear this Saturday
The full moon is seen rising in the sky above the domes of the Smolny Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia, Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. Monday night's full moon, also known as a Harvest Moon, will be the third and final "supermoon" of 2014. The phenomenon, which scientists call a "perigee moon," occurs when the moon is near the horizon and appears larger and brighter than other full moons. One of St. Petersburg landmarks, the Smolny convent's main church was built between 1748 and 1764 by Italian architect Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
A girl plays with a dog as a perigee moon, also known as a supermoon, rises in Madrid, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014. The phenomenon, which scientists call a perigee moon, occurs when the moon is near the horizon and appears larger and brighter than other full moons. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
MADRID, SPAIN - AUGUST 10: A plane flights across the supermoon surrounded by a Madrid skyscraper on August 9, 2014 in Madrid, Spain. In the second supermoon or perigee moon as it is also known of the summer, the moon will supposedly appear 30% brighter and 14% bigger than normal, with another due to appear in our skies on September 9, 2014. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
The moon rises in the sky as seen through the Four Towers or C.T.B.A. (Cuatro Torres Business Area), one of the main symbols of Madrid, Spain, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: Visitors to The London Eye ferris wheel view the near full moon in Whitehall on September 8, 2014 in London, England. A supermoon or harvest moon involves a full moon coinciding with it's closest approach to the Earth on it's elliptical orbit. This is the third sighting of a supermoon this year with it occuring in full tonight. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
People watch a perigee moon, also known as a supermoon, rising in the sky in Madrid Spain, Tuesday Sept. 9, 2014. The phenomenon, which scientists call a "perigee moon," occurs when the moon is near the horizon and appears larger and brighter than other full moons. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 9: (EUROPE AND AUSTRALASIA OUT) Photographers take images of the full supermoon, as it rises over North Bondi headland on September 9, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. A supermoon or harvest moon involves a full moon coinciding with it's closest approach to the Earth on it's elliptical orbit. (Photo by Craig Greenhill/Newspix/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 9: (EUROPE AND AUSTRALASIA OUT) The full supermoon rises over North Bondi headland on September 9, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. A supermoon or harvest moon involves a full moon coinciding with it's closest approach to the Earth on it's elliptical orbit. (Photo by Craig Greenhill/Newspix/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 09: The supermoon rises east of the South Point Hotel & Casino on September 9, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with its perigee, which is its closest approach to the Earth. To have three in such close proximity is very rare and it is not expected that this will happen again until 2034. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
A perigee moon, also known as a supermoon, rises in the sky as a couple kiss in Madrid Spain, Tuesday Sept. 9, 2014. The phenomenon, which scientists call a "perigee moon," occurs when the moon is near the horizon and appears larger and brighter than other full moons. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
A couple sits on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River as the full moon rises in the distance Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. Monday night's full moon, also known as a Harvest Moon, will be the third and final "supermoon" of 2014. The phenomenon, which scientists call a "perigee moon," occurs when the moon is near the horizon and appears larger and brighter than other full moons. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
CONSUEGRA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 08: A moon appears behind a windmill a day before the supermoon is full on September 8, 2014 in Consuegra, in Toledo province, Spain. Consuegra belongs to a region made famous by the novel 'Don Quijote de la Mancha' (Don Quixote) writed by ' Miguel De Cervantes. Some of the windmills belong to the 16th century. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: A Union flag flutters in sight of the near full moon in Whitehall on September 8, 2014 in London, England. A supermoon or harvest moon involves a full moon coinciding with it's closest approach to the Earth on it's elliptical orbit. This is the third sighting of a supermoon this year with it occuring in full tonight. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA - AUGUST 10: A supermoon rises above the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial on August 10, 2014 in Arlington, Virginia. Tonight's supermoon, or perigee moon referring to its closest point to earth, is the second one of the summer. According to NASA, the moon appears 30 percent brighter and 14 percent bigger than normal. Another supermoon will appear September 9. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, BC - SEPTEMBER 9: The perigee moon or 'supermoon' rises over the skyline of Vancouver on September 9, 2014 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Tonight's supermoon was the third in a trio of supermoons this summer. To have three in such close proximity is very rare and it is not expected that this will happen again until 2034. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
INGELWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 9: A full moon rises over the Hollywood Park Casino on September 9, 2014 in Inglewood, California. A supermoon, or harvest moon, involves a full moon coinciding with its closest approach to the Earth on its elliptical orbit. This is the third supermoon this year. (Photo by Jonathan Alcorn/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: A full moon passes behind The Shard skyscraper on September 9, 2014 in London, England. A supermoon or harvest moon involves a full moon coinciding with it's closest approach to the Earth on it's elliptical orbit. This is the third sighting of a supermoon this year. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
The moon rises with an orange glow over the Atomium in Brussels on Tuesday Sept. 9, 2014. The supermoon, known to scientists as a perigee moon, occurs when Earth's neighbor appears at its largest and brightest compared to other full moons when it orbits closer to our planet. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)
The full moon rises through the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. Tuesday night's full moon, also known as a Harvest Moon, will be the third and final "supermoon" of 2014. The phenomenon, which scientists call a "perigee moon," occurs when the moon is near the horizon and appears larger and brighter than other full moons. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: Visitors to The London Eye ferris wheel view the near full moon in Whitehall on September 8, 2014 in London, England. A supermoon or harvest moon involves a full moon coinciding with it's closest approach to the Earth on it's elliptical orbit. This is the third sighting of a supermoon this year with it occuring in full tonight. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: The near full moon is glimpsed through The London Eye ferris wheel view over Whitehall on September 8, 2014 in London, England. A supermoon or harvest moon involves a full moon coinciding with it's closest approach to the Earth on it's elliptical orbit. This is the third sighting of a supermoon this year with it occuring in full tonight. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
The moon rises over the fields with an orange glow at Deftera a suburb of capital Nicosia, Cyprus, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. The supermoon, known to scientists as a perigee moon, occurs when Earth's neighbor appears at its largest and brightest compared to other full moons when it orbits closer to our planet. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)
PROVO, UT - SEPTEMBER 9: The Supermoon silhouettes the 'Angle Moroni' statue atop the Mormon City Center Temple on September 9, 2014 in Provo, Utah. Tonight's supermoon was the third in a trio of supermoons this summer. To have three in such close proximity is very rare and it is not expected that this will happen again until 2034. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
The moon rises over the Giralda, the tower of Seville's Cathedral, on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Spain. Tuesday night's full moon, also known as a Harvest Moon, will be the third and final "supermoon" of 2014. The phenomenon, which scientists call a "perigee moon," occurs when the moon is near the horizon and appears larger and brighter than other full moons. (AP Photo/Miguel Angel Morenatti)
A perigee moon, also known as a supermoon, rises in the sky as a couple kiss in Madrid Spain, Tuesday Sept. 9, 2014. The phenomenon, which scientists call a "perigee moon," occurs when the moon is near the horizon and appears larger and brighter than other full moons. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)
LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 09: The third supermoon of the summer rises over the Stratosphere Casino Hotel on September 9, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with its perigee, which is its closest approach to the Earth. To have three in such close proximity is very rare and it is not expected that this will happen again until 2034. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
The supermoon rises above the Stadium Bilino Polje in Zenica, Bosnia, on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014 as supporters watch the Euro 2016 qualifying match between Bosnia and Cyprus. The phenomenon, which scientists call a "perigee moon," occurs when the moon in its elliptical orbit is relatively close to Earth and seen from the Earth near the horizon, appears larger and brighter than other full moons. This will be the third and final supermoon in 2014. (AP Photo/Amel Emric)
A perigee moon also known as a supermoon rises above the steel structure of a 51 meter (167 feet) tall cross in Skopje, Macedonia, Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014. The phenomenon, which scientists call a "perigee moon," occurs when the moon in its elliptical orbit is relatively close to Earth and seen from the Earth near the horizon, appears larger and brighter than other full moons. This will be the third and final supermoon in 2014. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)
The moon rises over a downtown office buildings Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. Monday night's full moon, also known as a Harvest Moon, will be the third and final "supermoon" of 2014. The phenomenon, which scientists call a "perigee moon," occurs when the moon is near the horizon and appears larger and brighter than other full moons. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
A perigee moon also known as a supermoon, rises in the sky above a statue, in Pamplona, northern Spain, Tuesday Sept. 9, 2014. The phenomenon, which scientists call a "perigee moon," occurs when the moon is near the horizon and appears larger and brighter than other full moons. (AP Photo/Alvaro Barrientos)
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In fact, September's lunar perigee is special because it's the closest perigee of the entire year. As a result, this perigee gets a special name: proxigee.

And lucky for supermoon gazers, the full moon will fall on that same night of Sept. 28, making September's supermoon the best of the year. We won't see another supermoon like September's until November of 2016.

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