2017 has yet to see a supermoon, but that is about to change. On December 3rd, National Geographic reports that the only supermoon of the year will be seven percent bigger and 16 percent brighter than usual.
This occurs because the moon does not orbit the Earth in a perfect circle. It varies in how far it is from the Earth based on its location in orbit. The supermoon occurs when the closest point to Earth, known as the perigree, occurs at the same time as a full moon. This gives the moon the appearance of being bigger and brighter from the Earth.
Individuals on the east coast will see the moon at its brightest point at approximately 4:00 am EST. According to NASA, the moon will be 222,443 miles away from the Earth as opposed to the 252,000 miles it is at its furthest point from the Earth in its orbit.
Those in London will be able to utilize the short days of winter to also view the supermoon at 4:40 pm GMT, while Romans can do the same at 5 pm. The Virtual Telescope Project is making a live stream available from Rome.
Stargazers shouldn’t set their expectations too high for the event. Astrophysicist Gianluca Masi stated that there aren’t going to be variations that are too obvious, but the brighter moon improves the opportunity to see and admire the moon’s natural beauty. The most vivid point of the event will be right after the sun rises. The “moon illusion” makes the moon appear significantly larger than it is at its highest point.
Residents of Washington state will notice that the moon passes over the star Aldebaran and will be visible at 6:09 am in Seattle and again at 6:46 am. Other locations across the globe that will be able to see the supermoon include Russia, China, Bangladesh and Northern Canada. The 2016 supermoon was the brightest one since 1948.
Don’t be too upset if you don’t manage to catch this one. January will have two supermoons to catch. Keep your eyes out for both bright moons on both January 2nd and January 31st. This is when you’ll have the chance to see both the Full Wolf moon and a Blue moon.