Sci-tech

Supermoon Alert! Sunday's Full Moon Will Be 2017's Only Supermoon

Supermoon Alert! Sunday's Full Moon Will Be 2017's Only Supermoon

According to Space.com, supermoons occurs when a point in a full moon's orbit is closest to Earth.

By some measures, Sunday night's full moon is the only supermoon of 2017. Since the moon's orbit is elliptical, one side (apogee) is about 30,000 miles (50,000 km) farther from Earth than the other (perigee). This makes the moon to appear up to 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual. For the best possible view, the supermoon will reach its closest point to Earth and appear largest in the sky on Monday at 3:45 a.m. Not so much. That has led some astronomers such as Neil deGrasse Tyson to pooh-pooh the phenomenon.

Fortunately, Tyson's word isn't gospel, whether we're talking about supermoons, dwarf planets or adjectives vs. nouns.

A supermoon rises in front of a replica of the Statue of Liberty sitting atop the Liberty Building in downtown Buffalo N.Y. Sunday Dec. 3 2017. December's full moon appears bigger and brighter in the sky as it sits closer than average to Earth. S

Astrologer Richard Nolle defined a supermoon in 1979, but the term has really taken off in the past few years.

If you're unable to see the supermoon, you won't have to wait long for another opportunity. The weather forecast calls for partly cloudy skies on Sunday night, and you can check the National Weather Service's graphical forecast for a more specific prediction. But any time you catch a full Moon as it rises or sets, while it's suspended low on the horizon beaming through the silhouettes of trees or buildings, its apparent size might make you do a double-take.

There is an option offered by the Italian-based Virtual Telescope Project, which consists of several robotic telescopes remotely accessible in real-time over the Internet. The next supermoon will occur just after the new year on January 2. That'll be a super moon, even by Neil deGrasse Tyson's standards.

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