The biggest full moon of the year, a so-called “supermoon,” will take center stage when it rises this weekend, and may interfere with the peak of an annual meteor shower created by the leftovers from Halley’s comet.
The supermoon of 2012 is the biggest full moon of the yearand will occur on Saturday (May 5) at 11:35 p.m. EDT (0335 May 6), though the moon may still appear full to skywatchers on the day before and after the actual event. At the same time, the annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower will be hitting its peak, NASA scientists say.
“Its light will wash out the fainter Eta Aquarid meteors,” NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke of the Marshall Space Flight Center told SPACE.com in an email. Still, Cooke said there’s a chance that the brightest fireballs from the meteor display may still be visible.
A supermoon occurs when the moon hits its full phase at the same time it makes closest approach to Earth for the month, a lunar milestone known as perigee. Scientists also refer to the event as a “perigee moon,” according to a NASA video on the 2012 supermoon.
That’s exactly what will happen on Saturday, when the moon will swing within 221,802 miles (356,955 kilometers) of Earth â€” its closest approach of the entire year. Because the moon’s orbit is not exactly circular, there is a 3-percent variation in its closest approaches to Earth each month. The average Earth-moon distance is about 230,000 miles (384,400 km).
The last supermoon was in March 2011. At the time, it was the biggest and brightest full moon in 18 years. [Amazing Supermoon Photos from 2011]
While the moon’s extra brightness during the supermoon may wash out some of the fainter Eta Aquarid meteors, all is not lost, Cooke said.
“Our fireball cameras have already detected four bright ones. So I would say that the odds are pretty good that folks can see a bit of Halley’s Comet over the next few days, if they care to take the time to look,” Cooke explained. “They will be the big and bright ones, fewer in number with a rate of just a few per hour, but they will be there.”
Cooke anticipates that the 2012 Eta Aquarid meteor shower will peak at up to 60 meteors per hour on May 5.
The eta Aquarid display is one of two meteor showers created by dust from Halley’s comet (the Orionid shower in October is the other). It occurs every April and May when the Earth passes through a stream of debris cast off by comet Halley during its 76-year trip around the sun.
The eta Aquarid meteor shower of 2012 actually began on April 19 and ends on May 28, but its peak is in the overnight period between Saturday and Sunday (May 5 and 6).
“Meteor watchers in the Southern Hemisphere stand the best chance of seeing any meteors,” a NASA advisory from the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory explained.
We have the biggest FULL MOON of the year arriving on May 5th, during the Celtic festival of Beltane and known as Wesak Moon which is an auspicious day that celebrates the birth, life and death of the Buddha and Christ Consciousness. The word out is that itâ€™s going to be big and powerful. Iâ€™ve gathereed some of the best insights from the best readers of the stars so we can tune into the energy coming our way
â€œThis yearâ€™s Scorpio Full Moon arrives during Beltane (May 1-5), the Celtic earth festival that celebrates the beginning of Summerâ€¦.â€
â€At Beltane, we dance around the Maypole, weaving the masculine and feminine energies of life and love, hope and expectation. And so, each year Life is renewed. Beltane is another fire festival, symbolizing the next leap of light here in the northern hemisphere. Youâ€™ll notice that the light will increase dramatically now as high summer approaches. The bonfires we light at Beltane give us back the light of renewed hope for the coming year. When we leap over the Beltane fire, it cleanses us of any lingering darkness, and brings us luck and fertility. It is during Beltane that the veils between the worlds open and the Faerie folk come out to dance with us. So go outside and enjoy this time of beauty and delight. â€œ
â€œThis Scorpio Full Moon is also called the Wesak Moon, the most auspicious day in Buddhism, for it celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. In this energetic opposition between Taurus and Scorpio, we are all called to the great union with Nature and the heavens, celebrating the Divine within Nature and within ourselves. Like the Buddha, we are called to acknowledge the divine spirit in our human nature as we overcome and release the emotional demons that plague us and separate us from our spiritual inheritanceâ€¦â€
â€œThis potent full Moon, which is also another superMoon, meaning it is close to the Earth and therefore exerts a stronger pull on us, calls us to give birth to the powerful destiny seeded within each of us. This is the year to do it and now is the time to let go of the fears and the demons that keep us caught up in the delusions of our patriarchal society. We can band together with like-minded people (Venus in Gemini) and create a life that is meaningful, creative and strong (Mars in Virgo).â€
â€œThis Taurus/Scorpio Full Moon asks us to become aware of the people and things we give the highest value to, and to look at the emotional trauma that keeps us apart. Itâ€™s time to question our values and beliefs about money, power, happiness and our connection to each other and to the Earth. There are powerful forces at work determined to keep the old system alive, regardless of how many people and places it destroys. But we are equally powerful, and the Cosmos is lending us energy to break-through our paralysis and stand up for our beliefs. â€œ
â€œThe Wesak Festival is upon us. This Scorpio / Taurus full moon, is THE full moon of the year, no matter what configuration surrounds it.â€
â€œSo, why do we, astrologers, make such a big fuss over this full moon? In the spiritual circles this full moon is known as the full moon in which the guardians of humanity transmit the energy of enlightenment, and yes, there is the belief that the Buddha realized enlightenment on this full moon.â€
â€œFor us, ordinary people, this full moon is also a time to reach beyond. We can all get a chance to experience a new feeling. This full moon is on a Sunday, so most of us will have the opportunity of opening up quietly into a new impression.â€
â€œWhat do I mean by that? We live our lives in a mixture of feelings, each with his or her range of feelings, emotions and thoughts, and we are so used to them that we can hardly move past them. The Scorpio full moon can give each of us a taste of a new feeling, something that is beyond words, fleeting sensation that cannot be grasped, it washes over us, and itâ€™s gone. This small quiet loving feeling can make a huge impact over the many months that will followâ€¦.â€
â€œThis full moon will not be easy. (I find it so hard just to write this postâ€¦)Many of us are struggling with these specific issues which seem to cause so much pain: sense of no power, lack of resources, and relationships that are based on anything other than love (lust, energy steeling, power struggles, and compromises)â€¦.â€
â€œThere are so many issues that come to the surface with this Full Moon in Scorpio /Taurus. Many of them have been highlighted in the past few months. Besides the Sun/Moon opposition, there is the Mars /Neptune opposition which have been with us for a few months by now. Our actions are still not where we want them to be. We make plans, we try hard, and yet for some reason when itâ€™s time to actually manifest, we end up with a diffused product. We are angry and we donâ€™t know why, we want to change things and we donâ€™t know where to start. We feel tired unexpectedly, and many have the feeling of loosing trust with themselves and with the world.â€
â€œThe good news about this Full Moon is that this configuration is about to finish in the next few day, and that overall this full moon does have a lot of positive building energies in itâ€¦. â€œ
â€œThe moon is in Quintile triangle with Mars and Venus, which can help creative solutions to come to mind, and help that fleeting feeling come in s surprising manner and give all of us a lot of hope and a sense that after all â€“ life is good, life is worth living.â€