This weekend's is the first supermoon in just about a year.
The first visible supermoon in just about a year takes place this weekend, giving stargazers a rare glimpse to view the moon at its biggest and brightest. But what exactly is a supermoon, and if it's so special, when will it happen again next?
A supermoon is a full moon, but a full moon is not necessarily a supermoon. In fact, it usually isn’t. A supermoon only occurs when a full moon coincidentally falls during the period when the moon is the closest distance from Earth during its orbit. This makes the full moon appear even larger and luminous due to its increased proximity to the planet.
It’s worth noting that a supermoon technically occurs during a new moon, too, but that phenomenon usually isn’t referred to as a supermoon since new moons are not visible in the night sky.
When is this weekend’s supermoon?
You’ll be able to watch the supermoon starting on Sunday Dec. 3. The best time to see it will be anytime after moonrise, which will occur around 5 p.m. local time in the U.S. depending on your time zone.
When was the last supermoon?
The last supermoon occurred approximately a year ago on Dec. 14. But the supermoon that took place exactly a month before that was much more notable — it was the closest supermoon to Earth since January 1948.
When is the next supermoon?
If you aren’t able to observe this weekend’s supermoon, don’t worry: The new year kicks off with two supermoons straight from the gate. The celestial events will be visible on both Jan. 2 and Jan. 31, but those conclude the remainder of 2018’s supermoons, so make them count.
If you want to witness a peak supermoon at maximum size and brightness like the aforementioned 1948 supermoon, it’s going to be awhile. The next time the moon will come that close to the Earth will be on Nov. 25, 2034. But that doesn't mean this weekend's supermoon won't be beautiful — expect a full moon at least 7% bigger and 16% brighter than usual.