CBS Local — Move over Great American Eclipse: a new stellar spectacle is coming into view and this one won’t require any special glasses to see it. On Dec. 3 Earth will view its only visible “supermoon” of the year, making the planet’s moon appear much larger and brighter than at any other point in 2017.
According to NASA, a supermoon occurs when there is a full moon at or near the point where the moon reaches perigee (the closest point in its orbit around the Earth). Astronomers say the moon will appear as much as 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter to many viewers around the world.
The lunar event is actually the fourth supermoon of 2017, however, the first three were not visible to the naked eye because they occurred during a new moon (when the darkened face of the moon is facing Earth).
So when will you be able to see the supermoon?
For sky watchers in the United States, the full moon begins at 10:46 a.m. ET on December 3. The moon will still be super-sized when it becomes visible that evening and will officially reach its perigee at 3:45 a.m. ET on December 4. At that point, the moon will be just 222,135 miles from Earth, nearly 16,000 miles closer than it normally is throughout the year.
When will the next supermoon be?
If you miss the massive lunar spectacle on December 3, you won’t have to wait long for the next supermoon to appear. The first supermoon of 2018 will occur on January 2.