Tomorrow's full moon
will appear a full 16% brighter and 14% larger. This is because the moon will be at its closest point (~222,000 miles) in its elliptical orbit around the earth. A Supermoon
or, alternatively and probably more correctly, a perigee moon is not a particularly rare event since it orbits the Earth in about 27.3. The last Supermoon occurred in March of 2011.
Lunar perigee does mean higher tides. Tidal forces are about 42% greater than at apogee (the orbial position farthest from Earth). Tomorrow ought to be a banner night for Kossacks. I haven't noticed any increased lunacy from Republicans but we should keep a lookout tomorrow, I'm sure one of them will demonstrate their lunacy once again.
Phil Plait of Discover's BadAstronomy blog
offers a view of the Moon for every hour of 2012 (above). The pictures were taken by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
. Launched in 2009 it studies the topology of the Moon and as a bonus returned the first images of the remnants of the Apollo landings.
The rocking back and forth seen in the video is known as libration
, which is the oscillating motion
of an orbiting body.
There you have about 5 minutes worth of science. Go out tomorrow and spend 10 checking out the supermoon.