The complete Moon of 19 February happens simply 6¾ hours after perigee, its closest level to Earth within the oval-shaped lunar orbit. This graphic exhibits the obvious measurement of this full Moon (left), virtually 8 p.c bigger than on common (proper). A full Moon occurring near perigee is popularly known as a supermoon, although astronomers desire the much less catchy time period ‘perigee-syzygy of the Earth–Moon–Sun system’. The supermoon of 19 February is the closest full Moon of the yr and we’ll not see one bigger till Christmas Eve 2026. AN graphic by Ade Ashford.

In case your jap sky is evident at nightfall on 19 February remember to take take a look at the complete Moon rising within the constellation of Leo. If it appears a bit greater than typical then it’s resulting from extra than simply the lunar phantasm, for this full Moon is the most important that you just’ll see all yr.

The Moon’s orbit round Earth is barely elliptical so generally it’s nearer and generally it’s farther away. When the Moon is full because it makes its closest go to Earth it is named a supermoon. At perigree — the purpose at which the moon is closest to Earth — the Moon could be as a lot as 14 p.c nearer to Earth than at apogee, when the Moon is farthest from our planet. The complete Moon seems that a lot bigger in diameter and since it’s bigger shines 30 p.c extra moonlight onto the Earth. Picture credit score: NASA.

The Moon’s orbit is much from round and its distance from Earth at closest method, termed perigee, varies every lunar month. Tuesday, 19 February at 9:09 UT (9:09am GMT) sees the closest perigee of 2019 when the gap between centres of Earth and Moon is 356,763 kilometres. And the Moon gained’t get any nearer Earth till 21 January 2023. But even this document can be surpassed by the 356,447-kilometre perigee of 6 December 2052 – the closest of the century.

The circumstances of 2019’s closest Moon get a little bit extra attention-grabbing a couple of hours afterward 19 February since full Moon happens at 15:54 UT (3:54pm GMT). The proximity of perigee and a full Moon – giving rise to a lunar orb virtually 8 p.c bigger than common on this event – is usually known as a supermoon, which is much extra succinct than the time period ‘perigee-syzygy of the Earth–Moon–Sun system’ most well-liked by astronomers.

Not solely is subsequent Tuesday’s full Moon the most important of 2019, nevertheless it’s additionally the third-largest full Moon of the following 10 years. In reality, you’ll have to attend till Christmas Eve 2026 to see a bigger full Moon (calculated for the geocentre).


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