The first and only supermoon of 2017 will rise on Sunday.
Supermoons are the result of the moon’s elliptical orbit around the Earth. They occur when the moon reaches perigee – its closest point to our planet (less than 223,694 miles). As it is so close, a supermoon looks 7% larger and 16% brighter than an average full moon. When seen near the horizon – where buildings or mountains provide a foreground – an illusion is created that makes the super moon look even bigger. They happen about every thirteen months or so.
When the moon is furthest from Earth – at apogee – it is called a micro-moon.
Full moons occur every 29.5 days when the moon is on the side of the Earth directly opposite the Sun. It reflects the sun’s rays and appears as a beautiful silver disk in the sky.
Ancient civilizations used full moons as a guide to schedule important activities, such as hunting and farming. They gave them each a name based on the dominant weather pattern or typical animal and plant activity during a particular month. In North America, according to National Geographic, native tribes used the moon names listed below. Many are still in use today.
- January: Wolf Moon or Ice Moon
- February: Snow Moon
- March: Worm Moon or Sap Moon
- April: Sprouting Grass Moon
- May: Flower Moon
- June: Strawberry Moon
- July: Buck Moon
- August: Sturgeon Moon or Grain Moon
- September: Harvest Moon
- October: Hunter’s Moon
- November: Beaver Moon
- December: Cold Moon or Long Night Moon
A blue moon is when a second full moon occurs in a single month. Given the uneven nature of our calendar system, these happen roughly every 2.5 years.