Skygazers will be treated to the “super snow moon,” on Tuesday, the largest supermoon of 2019.
February’s full moon is known as the “snow moon” as a result of the heavy snowfall that often occurs at that time of year, according to the Old Farmer’s Almanac. As a result, the Feb. 19 supermoon has been dubbed the “super snow moon.”
Supermoons occur when the Moon’s orbit brings it to the closest point to Earth while the Moon is full. Photographers were already capturing stunning shots of the supersize Moon on Feb. 18 and early Tuesday morning.
“When a full moon appears at perigee [its closest point to Earth] it is slightly brighter and larger than a regular full moon—and that's where we get a ‘supermoon’,” explains NASA, on its website, noting that the phrase was coined in 1979.
For people watching the celestial event in New York City, the Moon will rise at 5:46 p.m. and set at 7:35 a.m. on Feb. 20, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory. The Moon will appear particularly large when it is close to the horizon thanks to an optical illusion known as “the moon illusion.”
Although closer to the Earth, the Feb. 19 supermoon will not be as colorful as last month’s ‘super blood Moon’ eclipse that saw the Earth ’s natural satellite turn a stunning shade of red. The celestial event was 2019’s only total lunar eclipse and generated plenty of buzz.
The Moon continues to be a source of fascination. China, for example, recently became the first country to successfully land a spacecraft on the far side of the Moon. In December, a checklist that traveled to the surface of the Moon with Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin was sold at auction in New York for $62,500.
2019 also marks the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 Moon landing.
An Israeli nonprofit says it'll launch what it hopes will be the first private spacecraft to land on the moon this week. SpaceIL and state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries told reporters on Monday that the landing craft, dubbed Beresheet, or Genesis, will launch from Florida, where, propelled by a SpaceX Falcon rocket launch, it will commence its months-long voyage to the moon.
The launch is due late Thursday in the U.S. It had been originally slated for last December.
The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers