Skygazers got another reason to rejoice as the third and final supermoon of 2016 is lit up the sky on December 13. A supermoon takes place when the moon is full and is closest to the planet Earth in its 27-day orbit. The December full moon comes after the full Beaver Moon of November and full Hunter’s Moon of October. Both November and October’s moon are also supermoons.
November’s supermoon was the closest to Earth since 1948 and it will not come this close again until November 25, 2034.
The December 13 supermoon also coincided with another celestial event of 2016 – the Geminid meteor shower. Both the celestial events occured at the same time. It was a pleasant event to watch when the bright supermoon and the fainter shooting stars in the Geminids graced the night sky.
However, the meteors were not clearly visible as they will be in a darker sky.
A supermoon looks about 30 per cent brighter in the sky than a full monn which is located at its farthest distance from Earth. The full moon will reach its peak fullness tonight at 7:05 pm EST (0005 GMT on Dec. 14). The casual observer will be able to see it the night before and the night after the main event.
The full moon of December is also called the full Cold Moon because it is linked with cold winter nights in the Northern Hemisphere, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac. As the full moon occurs near the winter solstice it also received the moniker Long Nights Moon. The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and the beginning of winter, which falls on Wednesday, Dec. 21, this year.
“A supermoon, or perigee full moon, can be as much as 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than an apogee full moon. However it’s not always easy to tell the difference. A 30 percent difference in brightness can easily be masked by clouds or the competing glare of urban lights. Also, there are no rulers floating in the sky to measure lunar diameters. Hanging high overhead with no reference points to provide a sense of scale, one full moon looks much like any other,” NASA wrote in an October blog post about the year’s three supermoons.