Every year, we get to see a supermoon, when it appears brighter and seems to be much closer to Earth than usual. This happens when a full moon happens to reach the perigee, namely the closest point to Earth in its orbit. This year, the phenomenon will be visible on the night of December 3rd, when the moon will appear 7 percent bigger and 16 percent brighter than it usually is.
What is a supermoon?
The moon doesn’t perform a perfectly spherical orbit around Earth, meaning that one specific point is closest to our planet. This specific point is the perigee. Whenever a full moon reaches the perigee, it will appear as a supermoon, namely much larger and brighter than usual.
The last event of the year is known as the Full Cold Moon, which is the name traditionally given to the last supermoon to occur in the year. According to your location, you will be able to see it at its peak at different times. If you live on the East Coast, for instance, the moon will reach its perigee at 4:00 a.m. on December 4th.
Make sure you don’t miss the last astronomical event of the year
If you live on the west coast, then another surprise awaits you. In this region, the moon will be visible as it passes over the bright star Aldebaran. Depending on your location, the occultation will be visible from 4:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. However, the best view you can get of the supermoon is soon after sunrise. This is when the phenomenon called moon illusion occurs, when it appears a lot bigger than it looks at its perigee.
Last year’s supermoon occurred in November, which was the most impressive event of the kind since 1948. Next year is going to be even more spectacular, as the first month will offer us not only one, but two spectacular supermoons. Get ready for the Full Wolf Moon on January 2nd, and the Blue Moon on January 31st.
Image Source: Flickr