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December 2017 'supermoon': Everything you need to know

December 2017 'supermoon': Everything you need to know
By Emma Beswick
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Stargazers will tonight (December 3) be treated to a rare treat in the form of a "supermoon," during which the Moon appears larger and brighter in the sky.


It isn't as rare as a solar or lunar eclipse but it is the only time the event has occurred this year.

The phenomenon happens when our satellite reaches its closest point to the Earth, which is also known as a "pedigree moon," as opposed to at "apogee" when it’s farthest away.

NASA supermoon

Supermoons occur when the Moon is also a full Moon because of the oval orbit it takes around the Earth.

NASA supermoon

What's so 'super' about it?

Although it might not be obvious to the naked human eye, the Moon will appear about 7 per cent larger and 15 per cent brighter than usual.

When can I see it in Europe?

The supermoon will be most noticeable at "moonrise" on Sunday and "moonset" on Monday morning.

It will be at its brightest at 1 am CET when the satellite is at its highest above the horizon.

How can I take good photos?

NASA provided some tips for budding supermoon photographers, which include:

  • Photograph the Moon next to a landmark.
  • Personalise the experience by putting people in the shot.
  • Choose your location carefully.
  • For digital DSLR photography, use the daylight white balance setting for capturing moonlight.

When can I see the next supermoon?

This is the first in a "supermoon trilogy," according to Nasa, with two other lunar shows due on January 1 and 31.

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