Tonight is the last and only Supermoon of 2017, and it takes place tonight, on December 3rd. Well, actually, there have been three others this past year, but they were not visible to the naked eye because they occurred during a new moon, as reported by CBS Local. According to Newsweek, a supermoon occurs when there is a full moon that “coincides with the perigee of the moon’s orbital cycle.” So, what is a perigee? It is the point where the moon moves closest to the Earth as it orbits. This makes the moon look larger and brighter in the sky. According to National Geographic, the moon is also set to shine 16 percent brighter and appear 7 percent bigger than usual. Space.com reports that the Supermoon will reach full perigee at 3:45 a.m. ET in the late night hours of today/early hours of tomorrow, December 4, 2017.
So, when is the best time to check out the Supermoon tonight? The best time to check out the Supermoon is reportedly just after sunset because the closer it is to the horizon, the bigger it looks in the sky. Michelle Nichols, director of public observing at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium, tells CNN, “When you look at it from near the horizon, there’s an optical illusion. When the supermoon is viewed low on the horizon, it appears huge. This is known as the moon illusion and the moon hasn’t grown; it’s a trick your eyes are playing on you … If you stretch out your arm at full length, and stretch out your thumb, and compare the size of the full moon in the sky to the size of your thumb, you’ll notice the width of the full moon compared to the size of your thumb; you can put four full moons across the width of your thumb.” Nichols also added, “The supermoon gets headlines because the moon’s a little bigger and a little brighter, but people get frustrated that they can’t always tell the difference. Still, it’s a great excuse to just go out and look at the sky.”
To check out the Supermoon at its closest late tonight on the East Coast, check it out at 4 a.m. ET. When it comes to times that the Supermoon will rise, 4:29 p.m. local time in San Francisco, 5:17 p.m. in Los Angeles and 5:26 p.m. in New York City are reported to be accurate. But, Thrillist reports that stepping outside for a view any time after 5 p.m. local time in your area should be good for viewing the moon. To check out the sunset and moonset times in your area, click here. On the Time and Date website, type in your state, country or town. In addition to tonight’s Supermoon, there are two upcoming ones set for January 1st and January 31st as well. According to Accuweather, tonight’s Supermoon goes by several nicknames, including Full Cold Moon, the Long Night Moon, the Oak Moon and the Moon Before Yule, but Full Cold Moon is the most common of the names. The Supermoon occurring on January 31st, will be called the Blue Moon.