February'smarks the first supermoon of 2020. The Super Snow Moon is set to light up the night sky this weekend, visible to skywatchers provided the weather remains clear.
The Snow Moon, so named by Native American tribes for February's wintery weather, will reach its peak at 2:33 a.m. ET on Sunday, February 9, according to NASA. It will appear full for about three days surrounding its peak, from Friday evening to Monday morning.
The Snow Moon is the most widely-used nickname for February's full moon, but it has also been known as the Storm Moon, Hunger Moon, Magha Purnima, Magha Puja, the Mahamuni Pagoda Festival Moon, and the Chinese Lantern Festival Moon, NASA said.
It marks the first in a series of supermoons this year. A supermoon occurs when the full moon is closest to Earth in its elliptical orbit, making it appear brighter and larger than normal.
The next full moon, another supermoon, will occur on March 9. There will be two additional supermoons this April and May.
According to NASA, the first week of the month is also a good time to see the planet Mercury, which will be at its highest elevation above the horizon for the year for viewers in the Northern Hemisphere. Viewers can look to the western horizon during clear weather to spot the elusive planet.
On the morning of February 19, Mars will "disappear" behind the moon for about an hour — called an occultation. The spectacle will be visible at night for much of the western half of North America.
First published on February 5, 2020 / 4:11 PM
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