There’s a Supermoon AND a Meteor Shower Happening Tonight
For those eager to end the year and counting down every last event, be sure to add the last full moon of the year to the “Goodbye, 2016” list.
The full moon, which will shine on Tuesday night will also be the last supermoon of the year. This year had six supermoons, which is about average. However, this could be the last chance to spot one for quite some time. The next supermoon won’t hit until December 3, 2017 and one this big won’t happen for almost another 20 years.
The supermoon is “a new or full moon that occurs when the moon is within 90 percent of its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit,” according to NASA, although the term has come to refer to any moon that is closer to Earth than average.
However, this supermoon is expected to be exceptionally spectacular, as the moon will be the closest it’s been to Earth in decades. It’s not expected to get this close again (and appear this large) until 2034.
Those going out stargazing Tuesday night can also try to spot the peak of the Geminids Meteor Shower.
The Geminids are “one of the best and most reliable of the annual meteor showers,” according to NASA, although this year the shower will be obstructed by the supermoon and it will be tough to spot. Generally, the Geminids produce up to 120 meteors per hour. They will peak around 2 a.m. EST.
Those unable to see the Geminids can wait and watch another meteor shower, the Ursids, when they peak early in the morning on December 22.
The Ursids generally produce a few shooting stars per hour, but they have been known to produce spectacular shows of 50 or more per hour. However scientists say that is unlikely to happen this year.