On Tuesday, February 19, our planet is in for a treat.
You will be able to witness a ‘Super Snow Moon’, the largest and brightest full moon of this year, giving sky gazers an opportunity to witness a stunning cosmic event that won+t repeat until 2026.
In fact, this will the second of the three “Super Moons” this year.
The next super moon, although not as bright and large as the one in February, will take place on March 21, 2019.
The spectacular lunar phenomenon is often known as the “snow moon” because it often appears at the same time as heavy snow at this time of year in the northern hemisphere of the planet.
The “supermoon” is a phenomenon that occurs when a full moon is in its perigee (its closest point to Earth), which makes it appear brighter and larger than a normal full moon.
By the numbers, this means that this February 19, the Earth’s natural satellite will be at around 355,665 kilometers from Earth and will look 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual.
So, what’s so special about a supermoon?
Turns out, it’s a bit more subtle than it sounds—but for the interested observer, there’s plenty to see and learn.
- The Moon orbits Earth in an ellipse, an oval that brings it closer to and farther from Earth as it goes around.
- The farthest point in this ellipse is called the apogee and is about 253,000 miles (405,500 kilometers) from Earth on average.
- Its closest point is the perigee, which is an average distance of about 226,000 miles (363,300 kilometers) from Earth.
- When a full moon appears at perigee it is slightly brighter and larger than a regular full moon—and that’s where we get a “supermoon.
That’s the perfect opportunity for getting your telescopes out and observing Earth’s satellite.
From the Americas, the best time to observe the moon will be before dawn on Tuesday.
For Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia, the best time to observe the super snow moon will be after sunset.