What is a Super Snow Moon?

A super snow moon is when the moon is both at its fullest and and its perigee, which means the point in the moon’s orbit when it’s closest to Earth.

The super snow moon tends to occur during the month of February and was given its name thousands of years ago by Native Americans as that is when they had the most snow fall, it has also been known by the name, Hunger Moon and Storm Moon.

Because of the distance between the moon and Earth at this time, the moon appears 14 percent larger and around 30 percent brighter in the sky.

The moon’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle, it’s more egg-shaped and this is due to forces of gravity from both the sun and the Earth. This means that the moons distance from Earth varies throughout the year.

According to NASA, on the 19th February 2019, the super snow moon’s perigee will be about 362 miles (583 kilometres) closer to Earth than January’s 2019 super blood moon. The moon will be just 356,846 km away from the Earth, whilst the furthest full moon will occur on 14th September 2019 and will be 406,248 km away from our planet.

The best time to photograph or look at a super moon is when it rises in the east or as the sun is setting in the west. This is when the moon will appear to be at its biggest, although this is a kind of optical illusion.

Astronomers say that the illusion is caused by objects such as trees and buildings in our line of vision tricking our brain into thinking the moon is closer to these objects than they actually are, making the moon appear much larger.

On the other end of the scale, the point in its orbit when the moon is furthest away from Earth is known as the apogee, and this makes the moon appear much smaller in the sky.

Feature Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls