Growing up as kids, we all remember those days spent staring wide-eyed at the Moon and the stars. As the years roll by, the fantasies of our childhood seem to fade away. But if the sight of a clear night sky still gives you goosebumps, then you should gear up for the “supermoon” this week.
On Tuesday, Feb. 19, the world will witness the biggest full moon of 2019. If you missed January’s “Super Blood Wolf Moon” this grand spectacle will make up for it.
A supermoon is a full moon that is at the closest point in its orbit to the Earth. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, on Feb. 19, around 10:53 a.m. EST is the time when the Moon will be closest to the Earth.
According to USA Today, the moon will only be about 221,000 miles from Earth, which is about 17,000 miles closer than the average.
The average distance of the Moon from the Earth is 238,855 miles. However, its orbit isn’t a perfect circle and this accounts for the variations in distance.
Astronomers call it “perigee,” and when the Moon reaches its closest distance on Feb. 19, it would seem to be much bigger and brighter than an ordinary full moon. The Moon could appear up to 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual, so get your phones out for the spectacular photos.
Apart from all the scientific facts, there is also an abundance of weather folklore about the moon, be it the shape, color or its position in the sky. Native Americans and people across Europe used the Moon to track seasons.
February’s full moon is also referred to as “Snow Moon” traditionally, as this is the month where the U.S. sees its heavy snowfall. A fun fact that you’d like to know is that the different tribes have their own names for February’s moon.
The Cherokee referred to it as the “Bone Moon” as it was the time of the year when food was so scarce that people nibbled on bones and drank bone marrow soup. Some other tribes called it a “hunger” moon as the harsh weather conditions were not suitable for hunting.
Other names include “No Snow in the Trails Moon” by the Zuni tribe in the southwest, and “Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire Moon” by the Wishram tribe in the northwest. The full moon names corresponded with seasonal changes.
Whatever names the February moon may be known by, one thing you can be sure of is that you won’t need any special equipment to see it. A clear sky is all that’s needed to get shooting with your cameras. And if you happen to be at a vantage point, don’t forget to take that selfie too.
If you miss this month’s supermoon, don’t fret, as there is going to be another one on March 21, 2019. However, EarthSky says that it won’t be as spectacular as this one. So, brace yourselves for this stunning spectacle, because every full moon after this would just be further away from our planet.