Sunday, 10 December, 2017

Watch for 2017's first and last supermoon

What is a supermoon? Catch 2017's last supermoon on Dec. 3
Theresa Hayes | 01 December, 2017, 21:20

The supermoon will begin to peak above the horizon in the dark afternoon hours on Sunday. the optimal time to see it is between moonrise and just before sunrise.

Regular observers of the full moon may notice the difference between a regular full moon and a supermoon, but sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference.

Have you ever wished the Jupiter or Saturn were closer to Earth? The resulting view makes the moon appear approximately 14-percent larger and about 30 percent brighter than usual.

The first - and final - supermoon of 2017 will brighten the sky Sunday evening around 8 p.m. and reach its perigee at 3:45 a.m. Monday.

Last year, when the full moon of November 14, 2016 was the closest supermoon in nearly 70 years, the media attention was somewhat pitched, and NASA responded with some advice from one of its senior photographers on how to best snap a shot. It's called a supermoon and it only happens once this year. That's why supermoons would even more rare if the moon didn't precess. The two full moons in January 2018 - on January 2 and 31 - also count as supermoons.

Mr Tavernier added: "Full moons can occur at any point along the Moon's elliptical path, but when a full moon occurs at or near the perigee, it looks slightly larger and brighter than a typical full moon".

"Its closest point is the perigee, which is an average distance of about 363,300 km from Earth". But for those who can't wake up that early, the moon will still look bigger and brighter throughout the night. While I lived here, I witnessed some of the most incredible moon rises I've ever seen in my life, and each month I was completely moonstruck while watching these otherworldly full moon ascensions.

But although the moon is the biggest and closest it can be to us, don't expect too much.

There are interesting skywatching events every year, but 2017 has been particularly generous, with the eclipse drawing millions to peer skyward and plenty of cool moon action as well, but it's still not done.

"One reason why the horizon might appear more distant than the sky overhead is that our brains perceive the shape of "space" as a gently flattened dome rather than a perfectly round sphere", Drake wrote. That means sometimes it's closer to the planet and sometimes farther away.