IF the shortening days were getting you down, on Friday night's amazing full moon was sure to raise the spirits. It appeared 14 per cent bigger than usual and a stunning 30 per cent brighter thanks to a rare, natural coincidence. But stargazers in most of Britain had to work to catch a glimpse of the spectacular phenomenon, though, because of cloud cover. Each month the moon orbits the Earth and Friday night it skimmed by at its closest distance for the last 15 years. The moon passed a mere 356,613km away from us - 28,000km closer than normal. The 15-year spectacular occurred as the moon's perigee - the closest point that it passes Earth - coincided with the full moon. The Met Office's Andy Hobson had warned: 'There's a good chance that people will miss it as most of the country has a band of rain over it.' If bad weather did cloud your view, moongazers will have to wait for another eight years - until Nov 14, 2016 - for the next close encounter. The closeness of the moon Friday night also had an effect on tides, dragging the high-water mark up another 2in. The Environment Agency said that it was not expecting the unusual tides to cause any significant problems around the British coastline. 'The risk of tidal flooding is still low,' a spokesman said. With the approach of the winter solstice on December 21, combined with the current tilt of the Earth, the moon climbed to its highest point in the night's sky for the entire year. And the phenomenon coincided with the annual Geminid meteor shower, which begins Friday night and continues for two days. The 'shooting stars' appear from the constellation Gemini but can be seen all over the sky - although stargazers are recommended to look away because of the brightness of the moon. It is probably the extinct hulk of a comet's nucleus, which released the Geminids meteoroids during its active phase some 4,000 or more years ago. The Geminids' splendour, though, might have been slightly dimmed by the huge, bright moon. " Daily Mail