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Sunday's supermoon to be biggest, brightest full moon of 2017

By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
December 01, 2017, 4:12:23 PM EST

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The only supermoon of the year will rise on Sunday night, appearing bigger and brighter than any other full moon in 2017.

A supermoon is a full moon that falls near or on perigee, the point in the moon’s orbit where it is closest to the Earth. This causes it to appear slightly larger and brighter than normal.

December supermoon


December’s full moon goes by many different names, including the Full Cold Moon, the Long Night Moon, the Oak Moon and the Moon Before Yule.

It is most commonly called the Full Cold Moon because December is when the winter cold fastens its grip and the nights become long and dark, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

This weekend’s full moon will rise on Sunday evening shortly after sunset and will be visible all night long, weather permitting.

An optical illusion, known as the "moon illusion," will make the moon appear even bigger when it is close to the horizon compared to when it is high in the sky.

Shortly after moonrise or before moonset is also a good time to photograph the moon, not only because of this illusion, but also because the moon will appear in frame with the natural landscape on the ground.

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In addition to appearing larger and brighter than normal, supermoons can affect the oceans.

“The supermoon plays a role in the tides and has a stronger influence than other full moons,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist David Samuhel said.

AP Supermoon

Full moon rises behind an illuminated Christmas tree in Skopje, Macedonia, on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Boris Grdanoski)


December’s full moon is the first of three full moons in a row that will be considered a supermoon.

January will feature the next two supermoons, the first falling on Jan. 1 and the second occurring on Jan. 31.

The second full moon in January will also a blue moon, the name given to the second full moon in a calendar month.

Additionally, the same night of the super blue moon, part of the world will experience a total lunar eclipse as the moon passes through the shadow of the Earth.

People from across Australia and eastern Asia will be able to view the entire event, while the rest of Asia, eastern Europe and North America will be able to view only part of the eclipse.


Questions or comments? Email Brian Lada at Brian.Lada@accuweather.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter!


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