The term “supermoon” sounds impressive. And considering the word describes the moon when it’s closest to the Earth, causing it to appear bigger than normal proves the namesake is definitely deserved. Another major hallmark of a supermoon is that the Earth, moon and sun are all perfectly aligned. So, the moon will appear full as well as brighter and bigger than usual. Pretty cool, huh?
There’s only going to be one visible supermoon occurrence in 2017, and it’s coming up in just a couple of days. Mark your calendars for Dec. 3, and get ready to fully enjoy the night sky.
According to National Geographic, the moon will appear seven percent bigger and 16 percent brighter during this year’s supermoon. The best time to view the moon will be just after sunset on Dec. 3, according to Fortune, although the moon will technically be at the closest point to Earth around 4 a.m. EST on Dec. 4. The moon’s closest point to Earth during orbit is called its perigee, and the moon will be at 222,135 miles away from Earth when it reaches its perigee during the early hours of Dec. 4, according to Space.com.
Because the moon’s orbit is not a perfect circle, it’s technically anywhere from 252,000 to 226,000 miles away from Earth, typically, according to Newsweek.
Unlike a solar eclipse, a supermoon can be viewed without any kind of eye protection, so you won’t have to worry with getting special viewing glasses for this phenomenon.
People have been talking about the upcoming supermoon for a while, especially on social media. Even NASA is getting in on the excitement building around this latest astronomical occurrence.
— NASA STEM – Inspiring the #Artemis Generation (@NASASTEM) December 1, 2017
Even though this is the only supermoon of 2017, there’s already two dates to look forward to in 2018 when the occurrence will happen again. Be on the lookout on Jan. 2 and Jan. 31 of the New Year for more big, beautiful moons.
If for some reason you’re unable to view the moon just after sunset on Dec. 3, you can watch it online through the Virtual Telescope website.
Be sure to catch the only supermoon of 2017 and prepare for more in 2018 because this really is a “super” thing to watch with the entire family!
More “Out Of This World” News
As of December’s supermoon sighting isn’t enough outer space excitement, you might be surprised to find out that the final month of 2017 also offers two meteor showers to watch.
The Geminid meteor shower reaches its peak on Thursday, Dec. 13. This annual sky show appears in over the Americas, with 60 to 120 shooting stars an hour, according to National Geographic.
First spotted nearly 200 years ago by travelers on the Mississippi River, the Geminids have actually become stronger since their first sighting in 1833.
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) December 1, 2017
Check out this YouTube video for more history on the Geminid meteor shower, as well as tips on how to best watch the shooting stars!
Later in December, you can also watch the Ursid meteor shower. While not as prominent as the Geminids, careful skywatchers can catch the show on Dec. 22. Look near the bowl of the Little Dipper constellation for the “shooting stars” to appear.
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) March 17, 2017
So, get those telescopes ready, grab your family and friends and watch nature put on an “out of this world” show throughout the month of December!