Supermoon 2017: When is the full moon and how to watch it? | Science | News

It has already been over a year since the last supermoon graced the night skies with its presence, and stargazers are in for a treat.

The December full moon will rise in the night sky in the dark afternoon hours of Sunday December 3.

As a bonus, two more super moons will follow in January and February 2018.

According to , the breathtaking event can make the moon appear up to 14 per cent large than usual. 

How does the supermoon work?

The supermoon is not a strict astronomical term, but it describes conditions in which the moon appears at its perigee – closest point to Earth.

Because the moon’s orbit is not perfectly round, its orbit brings it closer and farther to Earth at different times through the year.

At its farthest point the moon approaches its apogee which is on average about 405,500 km from Earth. During its closest approach the moon comes within 363,300 km from the planet.

Lyle Tavernier from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab said: “Full moons can occur at any point along the Moon’s elliptical path, but when a full moon occurs at or near the perigee, it looks slightly larger and brighter than a typical full moon. 

“That’s what the term ‘supermoon’ refers to.”

The supermoon is also incredibly brighter. In fact it is so bright that the sunlight cast off of it has been known to leave shadows on Earth. During this rare event, the moon can be up to 30 per cent brighter. 

How to watch the supermoon? 

The best time to view the supermoon is right after moonrise and just before sunrise, but the moon will look spectacular throughout its journey across the sky.

In London, the moon will rise just about 4.21pm at 61 degrees on Sunday December 3 before setting on Monday at 8.15am.

Stargazers in the US will get to see the moon rise at 4.59pm ET in New York and at 5.17pm PT in Los Angeles.

Observers in India’s Delhi can catch the moonrise a bit later at 6.22pm local time, before it sets the next day around 8.26am.

For more details, check your local moonrise and moonset times here.

Even if you miss the supermoon on Sunday, then the good news is that you will still see a bigger than average moon on the following days.

How to watch the supermoon online

Those who cannot brave the cold night to see the supermoon in person, are in luck because the astronomical spectacle will be live streamed by robotic telescope service Slooh.

The Slooh Supermoon Challenge livestream will kick off on Sunday December 3 at 9pm EST (Monday December 4 at 2am).

Slooh teased: “Ah, to be moonstruck, drunk on moonshine, full of restless energy, emboldened by a Full Moon. That is what we want to capture with the Challenge. 

“There’s a reason the full moon is linked to quirky and peculiar behaviour – its intense luminosity draws you outside to wander, question, dare. 

“We challenge you to use this powerful moon magic to connect to your people and the universe.”

The livestream will be hosted by long-time Slooh astronomers Helen Avery and Paul Cox. 

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