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. This weekend will feature the biggest, brightest full moon of the year, and catching it should be pretty easy for just about everyone.
The supermoon, as it’s called, will appear in the night sky on the evening of December 3rd. The moon will be closer to Earth than it typically is, and will appear roughly 7 percent larger and 16 percent brighter than it typically is. It’s on Sunday night, and unfortunately for any aspiring skywatchers who have to work the next day, the moon will be at its biggest and brightest at between 3:45am and 4:00am EST on Monday, November 4th.
Supermoons occur because of the shape of the moon’s orbit around Earth. You obviously can’t tell from just watching it, but the moon orbits the Earth in a slightly oval-shaped path. This non-circular orbit means that the moon ends up coming a bit closer to Earth at certain times of the year. When those times line up with the full moon, we are treated to the spectacle of a supermoon.
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. At only 7 percent larger, the moon will likely appear pretty normal to most observers. However, it’s a fantastic opportunity for photographing the moon, and if you’re planning on doing so, using a tripod or some other stable mount for your camera will give you the best shot at a clear photo.
As is the case with all celestial events, there are a few things you’ll need to hope for if you want to catch this year’s supermoon. The most important will be weather, as cloudy skies kind of ruin the fun, so be sure to keep an eye on the forecast if you’re hoping to enjoy the show. If mother nature spoils your night, you can always catch the view via livestream thanks to the Virtual Telescope Project.