February’s full snow moon, which first appeared this weekend, will light up the sky over the next two nights, with the spectacle already reaching full illumination on Sunday morning. But this year’s full moon was smaller than those of recent years.
This month’s full moon is considered a “micromoon.”
According to NASA, a full moon is the result of the moon appearing opposite of the sun in Earth-based longitude, which reveals the moon’s dayside. A full moon occurs after the lunar cycle has been completed (which takes 29.5 days).
The “micromoon” status of February’s full moon is a result of the moon being closer to the apogee, the point of orbit farthest from Earth.
Since the Earth is currently about 405,000 kilometres away, the moon will appear about 14 per cent smaller than full moons closer to the perigee, or point of orbit closest to Earth. Skygazers may remember the supermoon of July 2022, in contrast, when the moon was close to the perigree.
Observers, however, are unlikely to notice the difference this month without equipment.
As NASA explains on its website, the rising full moon will be 11 degrees above the east-northeastern horizon, offering wider illumination to other astronomical sights.
Three planets, including Mars, Jupiter and Venus, are all projected to remain visible until Tuesday morning.
The bright star Capella could also be seen in this lunar-illuminated sky.
To get the best view, astronomers suggest finding locations void of too much light pollution.
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