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Get ready for the full Supermoon

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The astrologer Richard Nolle, who is credited for coining the term, defines a supermoon as “a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit.” Presumably, that means any new moon or full moon coming closer than 362,000 km of Earth in 2017 counts as a supermoon, reported NSNBC.

EarthSky reports that this month, the full moon and lunar perigee – the moon’s closest point to Earth in its orbit – happen less than one day apart. The full moon comes on December 3, at 15:47 Universal Time (UTC), and lunar perigee takes place on December 4 at 8:42 UTC.

The December 2017 supermoon features the first of three full moon supermoons in succession, wrote Bruce McClure for EarthSky. The two full moons in January 2018 – on January 2 and 31 – also count as supermoons. As is typically the case, the second of these three full moon supermoons most closely coincides with lunar perigee, showcasing the closest and largest supermoon in this grand procession of supermoons.

Some people will call the full moon on January 31 a Blue Moon because it’s the second of two full moons in one calendar month. Moreover, this supermoon will stage a total eclipse of the moon.

We can expect each full moon supermoon in this three-peat succession to recur after 14 lunar months (14 returns to full moon). By the way, 14 lunar months represents a time period of about 1 year, 1 month and 18 days. Again, the second of three full moon supermoons will showcase the closest and largest supermoon of the series.

Of course one doesn’t need a telescope to enjoy watching the moon. A night out “under the moon” can be enjoyable and even more so when the moon is visibly bigger than usual. It’s a special atmosphere that you don’t want to miss.

Hobby astronomers and others who have a telescope will enjoy much more observable detail. Who knows, I you look long and hard enough you might even see the man in the moon or the moon rabbit.

Full moon distance (2017 Dec 3 at 15:47 UTC): 357,987 km
Lunar perigee distance (2017 Dec 4 at 8:42 UTC): 357,492 km

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