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On Saturday, watch the return of the 'supermoon'

Credit: NASA

Check out the sky this Saturday night to catch sight of an extreme "supermoon," when the Earth’s natural satellite will be 14 percent larger in the sky as it makes its closest approach to the Earth in 18 years.

Besides being a stunning, rare sight, the "supermoon" to many is a full-blown mystery as the scientific community and regular folk argue whether it’s to blame for natural disasters.

"Supermoons" happen when the moon gets much closer to the Earth than its average distance, which happens about six times a year. When a moon is both "super" and full, it can cause more extreme tides.

"I don’t know of any evidence that the tides or anything else related to the ‘supermoon’ can cause broader destruction," said Michael Blanton, professor and astronomer at New York University. "The term ‘supermoon’ is not a term that astronomers actually use."

Astrologer Richard Nolle coined the term "supermoon" in 1979 because the technical term perigee-syzygy is "a lot harder to pronounce than supermoon."

He said that supermoons can influence storms, tides, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes within a three-day interval before or after its occurrence. Both Hurricane Katrina and the World Series Bay Area earthquake of 1989 happened within the active interval of the Supermoon, Nolle said.

Saturday’s moon will be almost 100 percent as close to the Earth as it can ever get.

By calculating the alignment of the sun and moon to the earth, Nolle predicts that Saturday’s "supermoon" may affect Iceland, western Africa, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, western India and China, Chicago, New Mexico, New Zealand and the Bering Strait.

Some New Yorkers aren’t sold on the idea of a connection between the "supermoon" and natural disasters.

"I think it is more coincidence than anything that can be scientifically proven," said Peter Pacheco, 35, of Howard Beach. "I wouldn’t put any stock on it. Science isn’t perfect."

Moonrise on Saturday is a 7:27 p.m. and it sets at 6:30 a.m. The weather will be rainy during the day but it should be clear enough at night to get a good look.

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