Get ready folks, a super snow Moon is on its way tomorrow and it should not be missed.
Yes, we know it may not sound as exciting as a Blood Moon, or a Blue Moon or even a super blood wolf Moon, but tomorrow’s “super snow Moon” is going to be the biggest and brightest Moon of 2019, so long as the clouds are clear, it should put on quite a show.
It will be the second consecutive supermoon in a row, after last month’s, and with next month’s set to complete the hat trick – then that will be it for the year, so get your fill now.
So, what does “super snow Moon” mean?
A supermoon is when our satellite is not only a full Moon – when its entire face is lit up by the Sun’s rays – but at its perigee – its closest approach to Earth – which is why it looks brighter and bigger. Tomorrow’s is set to come a mere 356,800 kilometers (221,700 miles) within reach.
Like many of these Moon names, supermoon is not an astronomical term but an astrological one, first coined by Richard Nolle in 1979. Its technical term is a “perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system”, which is not quite as snappy.
A snow Moon is what the Native American tribes of what is now the northern and eastern United States traditionally called the midwinter Moon, or second full Moon of winter. They used the lunar cycle as a way of tracking the seasons, naming each month’s Moon. As this time of year was often cold, snowy, and hazardous, making hunting difficult, as well as the end of the traditional winter season when supplies were low, it was also called the Hunger Moon. Strangely, most media coverage is not going with this name but sticking to the more romantic-sounding “Snow Moon”.
So when can you catch it?
Peak fullness will be at 10.54am EST, Tuesday, February 19, but won’t be visible to most of the US at that time. If you want to see it properly, or even snap a pic or two, the best time to see a supermoon is just after “moonrise”, when the Moon is close to the horizon and the “Moon illusion” is in full swing. When the Moon is low, it looks bigger and brighter than when it is high up in the sky. This will be sometime between 5.30pm and 6.30pm local time tomorrow. In the UK, it’s a little earlier, around 5.10pm GMT.
2019’s third and final supermoon will occur on March 20. Also known as the Full Worm Moon (we’re not making this up, we swear), it will fall on the same date as the spring equinox, the first time this has happened since 1981, heralding the start of spring.
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