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When the moon hits your eye

Bureau County residents out late Saturday night might be treated to a special sight.

At 10:35 p.m., the moon will officially become full. Combine this with a close swing by Earth, and you get a supermoon, known as a perigee-syzygy event by more scientific minds.

If skies are clear, moon watchers will be treated to a extra big, extra bright light in the night sky.

All of this happens because the moon doesn’t travel in a perfectly round circle around the Earth. Rather, it travels in an oval shape, so when the full moon occurs when the moon is nearest the earth, a supermoon results.

On Saturday, the moon will only be 221,802 miles from Earth, which will result in a moon about 16 percent brighter than a usual full moon and the brightest in all of 2012.

Supermoons are not common, but neither are they rare. The last supermoon occurred in March 2011, when the moon was about 221,567 miles from Earth.

The average distance between the Earth and the moon is about 238,000 miles.

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Shoot-ing the moon

Big and beautiful supermoons like the one projected for Saturday often cause watchers to reach for their cameras.

However, unless you know the secrets of taking a good moon photo, you might be disappointed with the results.

Here are some tips for getting some great photographs Saturday from the website www.wikihow.com:

• Choose a suitable lens, which is 200mm or larger. The moon will look tiny in your photo if taken with your normal 50mm lens The minimum to ensure good detail is 300mm, but better still is a lens with a focal length close to 500mm.

• Be aware that it is reflected sunlight that makes the moon so brilliant. Don’t set your camera to nighttime exposure because you’ll need daytime settings to counter the bright light. Consider shooting at f/16 with a shutter speed of 1/200 second if your film is ISO 200.

• It is important to keep the camera as still as possible for a moon shot. A tripod is best, or rest the camera on a rock, fence, car, etc. for stability.

• Try a shutter release cable or use the shutter delay setting to avoid wobbling the camera.

• Keep experimenting with different settings until you get the shot you want.

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