Super huge moon tonight

Werewolves. Women in labor. Howling dogs. Lunatics on the loose. Sleeplessness.

Folklore blames all sorts of things on the full moon, and if any of it is true, then look out.

The moon will appear 16 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than usual tonight. That’s a lot of cheese.

It’s called a “supermoon” and it’s happening because this month’s full moon happens as the moon reaches its perigee, or closest point to Earth. It will be the biggest moon of the year.

“The moon’s orbit isn’t round, so sometimes it is closer to Earth than at other times,” said College of Charleston senior instructor Terry Richardson. “The close approach happens to coincide with the full moon.”

The best time to see it is when it’s closest to the horizon, or moonrise and moonset, experts say.

“The moon, for psychological reasons, looks bigger on the horizon and this one will be bigger than normal anyway,” Richardson said.

In Charleston, the moon will rise at 7:54 tonight and set at 6:39 a.m. Sunday.

“It’s a great time for photographers,” Richardson said. “The moon makes a nice landscape element over the water and bridges and things like that. If the weather is good, I might be out myself trying to take a picture.”

Unfortunately, the supermoon might not be very visible in the Lowcountry.

“There are definitely going to be some clouds, so I’m not sure how great the viewing is going to be,” said meteorologist Steven Taylor of the National Weather Service in Charleston.

There is a 30 percent chance of rain in the early evening and a slight chance of rain later, he said.

“It could be clearing in the night, but that’s a little optimistic,” he said.

Whether it’s visible or not, the supermoon brings with it extra-high “perigean tides,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“One thing I know is: Don’t drive through any standing water,” Richardson said. “Even if it rains a little bit, and you might think it’s rain water, at high tide, it’s likely to be salt water.”

High tide will be at about 8:20 p.m.

If the moon is visible, it could outshine a meteor shower tonight.

The Eta Aquarid meteor shower, the result of Earth passing through dust from Halley’s Comet, is expected to hit its peak today and Sunday, with about 10 meteors visible every hour, especially leading up to sunrise.

The good news is, if you’re out celebrating Cinco de Mayo and miss out on all the celestial activity tonight, don’t worry.

Supermoons are actually fairly common, happening about once a year. The last one was on March 19, 2011, when the moon was about 248 miles closer than this time, according to NASA. The next one is scheduled to happen on June 23, 2013.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or