'Snow moon' dazzles stargazers -- here's when to see the next supermoon
Stargazers were treated to a dazzling full moon this week -- the so-called "snow moon."
The Farmers Almanac says that Native American tribes called the second full moon of winter "the Snow Moon" because of February's typically heavy snow.
If you missed it, don't worry! Of the 13 full moons in all of 2020, the next two will be "super" -- one on March 9 (the worm moon) and the other on April 8 (the pink moon).
And yes, 13 full moons means that one month will have two, the second of which becomes a blue moon by definition. The month? October, with the blue moon falling on Halloween night - spooky, eh?
What is a supermoon?
The name supermoon was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979. It is the name given to a moon that becomes full (or new, but the only the full ones garner media attention) when its orbit is closer than average to the Earth. This makes them appear slightly bigger and as much as 30% brighter than a regular full moon.
Supermoons occur much more often than blue moons. But the exact frequency depends on the exact definition of a supermoon, which varies quite a bit in the astronomical community.
Nolle's definition is "a new or full moon which occurs with the Moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit (or perigee)." It seems that the majority of astronomers say a supermoon is one that tracks less than 223,000 miles from the Earth during its full phase. Others set the number in kilometers at 360,000 (which translates to a more precise mileage of 223,694).
Regardless of the exact cutoff, many experts say the average star gazer won’t notice the difference in size nor brightness.
April's full moon is notable as it cracks the list of closest supermoons between 2010 and 2020. It will come a mere 221,772 miles (356,907 km) from Earth!
Dates of each full moon in 2020: