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Biggest full moon of the year on tap tonight

It won't be an optical illusion: The moon will look bigger and brighter tonight.

For the first time in 15 years, a full moon is taking place when it is almost at its closest point to the earth.

"Tonight, it will be 221,560 miles from us. The closest it can be to the Earth is 221,441 miles so that's pretty darn close to the closest point," said Don Garland, assistant director of the Noble Planetarium at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

The moon will look 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter and will present an opportunity for amateur photographers, said Shaukat Goderya, assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Tarleton State University in Stephenville.

"I would recommend anyone who has a digital camera take some pictures of the moon tonight," Goderya said. "It is something to keep for future reference. Take a picture next month and compare the sizes. You will notice a difference."

Fort Worth amateur astronomer Billy Joe Gabriel said it will also be the northernmost full moon of the year as it rises in the northeast sky.

"It's so exciting to have all that moonlight," Gabriel said. "It's neat that it's a bigger looking moon. To me every full moon is significant, every new moon is significant."

Along with the full moon, tides will be higher tonight since the Earth's oceans are pulled by the gravity of the moon and the sun. As the moon gets closer, tides are pulled higher. These are called perigean tides, because the moon's closest point to Earth is called perigee. The farthest point on the lunar orbit is known as the apogee.

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