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'Super moon' brightens skies

Celestial body in full phase, at its nearest to Earth this year

Super-moon-brightens-skies

The full moon rises behind the Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion, southeast of Athens. The so-called 'super moon' is as much as 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than other full moons.

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WASHINGTON -- A "super moon" lit up Saturday's night sky in a once-a-year cosmic show, the U.S. space agency NASA said.

The moon seemed especially big and bright because it reached its closest spot to Earth at the same time it was in its full phase, NASA said.

The moon "is a 'super moon,' as much as 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than other full moons of 2012," NASA said.

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.

The moon reached perigee at 11:34 p.m. EDT. One minute later, it lined up with the Earth and the sun to become full.

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

A perigee full moon can bring tides that are higher than normal but only by an inch or so.

The effect can be amplified by local geography, but only by about six inches.

But no matter how far away a full moon is, it's not going to make people kill themselves or others, commit other crimes, get admitted to a psychiatric hospital, or do anything else that popular belief suggests, a psychologist said.

Studies that have tried to document such connections have found "pretty much a big mound of nothing, as far as I can tell," Scott Lilienfeld of Emory University said.

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