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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The second in a series of supermoons in 2019 will arrive Monday night.
The first happened on Jan. 21, and it was really special because it was accompanied with a full lunar eclipse. Monday’s will be special as well since it will be the brightest supermoon until December 2026.
What makes a moon so super? For that honor, the moon must be in its full phase during at least 90 percent perigee, which represents when the moon is closest to the earth.
Just as the earth’s orbit around the sun is not a perfect circle but elliptical — the same relationship exists with the earth and moon. It means there are times when the moon or sun will be closer to earth and further away.
The average distance between the earth and moon is 238,900 miles. Anytime the earth and moon are 224,775 miles or closer and during a full moon phase, it’s consider a supermoon.
But what makes this supermoon super-duper is the fact that its perigee is 100 percent at its closest, a distance that equals 221,681 miles from earth.
The casual observer may not see the difference but when you compare them side by side, it’s noticeable.
The net result equals a moon that will appear 14 percent longer and 30 percent brighter Monday night. In addition, the fresh snowpack will reflect the light to make it exceptionally bright tonight.
Just like the previous supermoon, we will be able to enjoy this one. If you are out and about Monday night, you should be able to look skyward and see the supermoon with no problem.
This is remarkable considering just how cloudy this winter and month has been. So far this month, 13 of the past 17 days were under the cloak of clouds.
It’s possible there could be a few lake-effect clouds skirting the shoreline from Muskegon northward by Tuesday morning.
If you plan to go outside to capture its full splendor, dress warm. The fresh snowpack, clear sky and nearly calm winds will lead to a very cold night. Metro areas will stop just shy of going below zero but rural locations likely will. The next supermoon will arrive just after the vernal equinox, official start of spring, March 21.