'Super snow moon' is set to be the biggest and brightest of the entire year
Earlier this year, the world experienced what is known as a 'supermoon,' which is effectively a full moon that appears much larger in the sky than usual. And now, starting on Tuesday this week, we'll be seeing yet another one, this time one that's reportedly set to be even bigger and brighter than the last.
“When a full moon appears at perigee [its closest point to Earth] it is slightly brighter and larger than a regular full moon—and that's where we get a ‘supermoon’,” NASA explain on their website, noting that the phrase was coined in 1979. The second supermoon of 2019 will be particularly noticeable because its orbit is at its closest point to the Earth, at around 356,800km (221,700 miles).
The first supermoon we saw appeared on the 21 January, and was the last chance to see a lunar eclipse until 2021. It was known as a 'Super Blood Wolf Moon' - the 'blood' coming from its reddish hue, and the 'wolf' being a descriptor for full moons in January. The naming likely originates from the Old Farmer's Almanac, which said that during this month, wolves howl at the moon.
This moon was visible in South and North America, in addition to Western parts of Africa and Europe, and there were some incredible photos taken at the time.
Supermoons are meant to appear around 14 per cent bigger and 40 per cent brighter than full moons at their smallest level (referred to as micromoons), during which the moon is at its furthest point from the Earth at around 405,000 km (250,000 miles). February's supermoon, known as a 'super snow moon,' will be 221,734 miles rom the Earth on February 19, according to EarthSky, the closest full moon to the planet this year.
This month's full moon traditionally known as a snow moon because it's the time of year that sees the heaviest snowfalls. According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, it is also sometimes known as a 'hunger moon', because it arrives at the end of winter, when food supplies are lower.
This supermoon will reach its perigee - or closest point to the earth - at around 9:06 am in the United Kingdom, being at its fullest at 3:53 pm, but will only be visible after it rises at 5:11 pm. Meanwhile, in New York City, the moon is set to rise at 5:46 pm and set at 7:35 am on February 20, according to the US Naval Observatory.
The moon will look even larger when it comes close to the horizon, thanks to an optical illusion known as 'the moon illusion,' for which there are various suggested explanations.
The next supermoon will be known as the 'full worm moon', and will be visible to the world on March 21, close to the official start of spring. However, it will not be nearly as bright or large as the supermoon visible this week, nor as striking as the red-coloured super blood wolf moon from January.