Full Snow Moon 2020: Is It a Supermoon?

~2 min

On February 8 or 9, 2020, depending on where you live, the Full Moon will occur. Will February’s Full Moon be a Supermoon? Why is it known as a Full Snow Moon? Let’s find out.

February Full Moon, the second full moon of the year, will shine among the stars of Leo constellation on February 9, at 7:33 UTC, but it will appear full to the eye on both Saturday and Sunday nights. You can easily check where it will be in your sky with the stargazing app Star Walk 2.

Why is it known as Snow Moon and Hunger Moon?

The Moon got the name Snow Moon as heavy snowfalls tend to occur in February. The other name, Hunger Moon, was used because bad weather and heavy snowfalls made hunting and getting food at this time of year very difficult.

What is a Supermoon and when does it occur?

The Moon's orbit around Earth is not a perfect circle, but elliptical. As a result, the distance between the Moon and Earth varies throughout the month and the year. When a Full Moon takes place when the Moon is near its closest approach to Earth, it is called a Super Full Moon. Super Full Moon compared to an average Full Moon looks about 7% larger and about 16% brighter.

Initially, the term Supermoon was thought up in 1979 by astrologer Richard Nolle. He defined a Supermoon as "a New or Full Moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit".

Will February Full Moon be a Supermoon?

If we use the original definition of Supermoon, given by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979, the answer is NO. He defined a Supermoon as "a New or Full Moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit".

If we take the "given orbit" as the Moon's orbit during all the year, as Nolle did, the closest distance (perigee) is 356 908 km on April 7 and the farthest (apogee) is 406 688 km on March 24. Therefore only the New and Full Moons at a distance of less than 406 688 - 0.9 * ( 406 688 - 356 908 ) = 361 886 km are Supermoons. But in February the distance to the Full Moon is 362 479 km. The answer becomes evident.

How to make it a Supermoon?

Another popular approach is to take the "given orbit" as the current monthly orbit. For this orbit the perigee is 360 463 km on February 10 and the apogee is 406 276 km on February 26. Therefore the limit distance is 365 044 km and February Full Moon becomes a Supermoon.

How many Supermoons will be in 2020? When is the next one?

A trio of genuine Full Moon Supermoons will occur from March to May – on March 9, April 8 and May 7, 2020. The closest and the largest Supermoon of the year will occur on the night of April 7-8. With the stargazing app Star Walk 2, you will get notified about these astronomical events in time.

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Image Credit:Vito Technology

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