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Watch for 2017's first and last supermoon
December 1, 2017
Eliot Herman in Tucson, Arizona compared the apparent size of 2017’s smallest full moon in June with the November 2016 supermoon. He wrote: “Both images captured with a Questar telescope and a Nikon D800 camera. The images were combined with Photoshop.”
By Deborah Byrd

This month's full moon happens at the same instant worldwide on December 3 at 15:47 UTC, which is 7:47 a.m. Pacific Time. It’ll be 2017’s first, last and only supermoon. And it's the first of three full moon supermoons in succession -- of which one will be both a blue moon and an eclipse!

In other words, this full moon will be near perigee, or the closest point of the moon in orbit for this month. Your eye probably can’t detect a difference in size between the December 3 supermoon and any ordinary full moon, although experienced observers say they can detect a size difference. But the supermoon is substantially brighter than an ordinary full moon.

Like every full moon, this one is opposite the sun from Earth.

It’ll rise in the east as the sun sets in the west, ascend to its highest point in the sky in the middle of the night, and set in the west around dawn. Clouded out on December 3? The Virtual Telescope Project in Rome is offering an online viewing of the supermoon.

The December 2017 supermoon will be the first of three full moon supermoons in succession. The two full moons in January 2018 – on January 2 and 31 – also count as supermoons.

Some people will call the full moon on January 31 a blue moon because it’ll be the second of two full moons in one calendar month.

Moreover, the January 31, 2018 supermoon will stage a total eclipse of the moon; if you live in North America or the Hawaiian Islands, this lunar eclipse will be visible in during the morning hours before sunrise on January 31.

On the other hand, if you live in the Middle East, Asia, Indonesia, Australia or New Zealand, this lunar eclipse will happen in the evening hours after sunset on January 31.
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