All eyes on the sky and the moon

Last updated 13:17 07/05/2012
Super Moon - Rio de Janeiro
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The 'super moon', scientifically known as a 'perigee moon', is pictured over the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Super Moon
A "super-moon" 30 per cent brighter than other full moons shone over New Zealand.

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A "super-moon" lit up the night sky on Sunday night in a once-a-year cosmic show, overshadowing a meteor shower from remnants of Halley's Comet, NASA said.

The moon seemed especially big and bright since it would reach its closest spot to Earth at the same time it is in its full phase, NASA said.

The moon "is a 'super-moon' as much as 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than other full moons of 2012", it said in a statement.

The scientific term for the phenomenon is "perigee moon". The moon follows an elliptical path around Earth with one side, or perigee, about 31,000 miles closer than the other, or apogee.

The moon had been visible over New Zealand since 5.23pm last night.

The last perigee moon was on March 19, 2011, when it was about 250 miles closer than last night's.

A perigee full moon can bring tides that are higher than normal but only by an inch or so (a few centimetres). The effect can be amplified by local geography, but only by about six inches.

The light from the perigee moon would wash out all but the brightest fireballs from the springtime Eta Aquarid meteor shower, NASA said. Forty to 60 meteors from the shower could normally be seen each hour.

The Eta Aquarid meteors make up the debris trail of Halley's Comet, which passes by Earth every 76 years.

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