Grab your shades: this weekend’s ‘supermoon’ will be huge!

Author: CBS News
Published: Updated:
august supermoon
A supermoon in November 2016 (photo via Val Kelly)

FORT MYERS, Fla. (CBS News) The sky will be illuminated with a brighter than usual glow from the moon Sunday as Earth welcomes its first — and last —supermoon of 2017.

This supermoon won’t be quite as special as last year’s. On November 14, 2016, the moon was closer to Earth than at any time in almost 69 years. The full moon won’t come that close again until 2034.

But that doesn’t mean Sunday’s view won’t still be spectacular.

The supermoon may appear up to 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual.

Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming supermoon:

What is a supermoon?

A supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with what scientists call the moon’s “perigee” — the point in its orbit when the moon makes its closest approach to Earth. When the moon is both full and closest to us, we get a big, bright supermoon.

This phenomenon can also cause physical effects on Earth. Its stronger gravitational pull can cause larger than usual tides and create heightened flood risks.

NASA points out that “supermoon” is not an official astronomical term, but one that has caught on with the public. The term was originally also used to referred to new moons at perigee, but since new moons are not visible from Earth, they’re rarely called supermoons.

What time is the supermoon?

For sky gazers in the U.S., the moon will become totally full at 10:47 a.m. on Sunday. It will officially reach perigee at 3:45 a.m. Monday, when it will be 222,135 miles away from Earth — nearly 16,000 miles closer than it normally is throughout the year, reports.

Will skies be clear enough to see the supermoon?

Probably so, though high clouds could make it play hide-and-seek for Southwest Florida viewers.

“Some clouds will be passing by, but you will have windows of opportunity to enjoy it,” WINK meteorologist Matt Devitt said.

When is the next supermoon?

Don’t worry, if you miss the show on Sunday, you’ll have another opportunity to catch a supermoon (or two!) in January. The first two full moons of 2018 will both be supermoons — one on Jan. 2 and a second on Jan. 31.

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