Southern Californians should have their eyes on the sky this weekend as the full moon becomes a "supermoon," the first of three this summer.
The astronomical event occurs when the moon is closest to the Earth in its orbit, making it appear much larger and brighter than usual.
David Reitzel, an astronomical lecturer at the Griffith Observatory, said the moon will appear largest on the west coast just before dawn on Saturday, at 4:25 a.m. That’s when the moon reaches its fullest, as it is close to setting over the western part of the sky.
On Friday night, the moon will be "not quite full" yet, Reitzel said, but viewers may notice it appearing more full as it moves throughout the night.
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According to a NASA news release, the best time to see the supermoon is when it hangs low, close to the horizon. Moon-gazing in a place with foreground objects such as trees or buildings for scale amplifies this "Moon illusion."
The full moons on August 10 and September 9 will also be supermoons. The August moon will be the biggest as its proximity to earth coincides the closest to the moon’s fullness.
Reitzel said the supermoon, known as a perigee moon scientifically, is not rare, and the term "supermoon" is a "pop culture take" on the occurrence that has gained attention recently.
"If it gives people a reason to look into the sky, I'm all for it," he said.
Because of the moon’s proximity to Earth, the supermoon is also expected to cause stronger tides.
At the Griffith Observatory, viewers can look through telescopes pointed at the moon for free. Reitzel said long lines are expected, and he recommends people arrive right after sunset for the viewing.