From tree lightings to New Year's Eve fireworks, there's a lot brightening the sky this December. Still, nothing can hold a candle to the spectacle that will light up the night this coming Sunday, December 3. That's when the first and only supermoon of 2017, the full cold moon, will reach its peak.
"Supermoon" is not an official astronomical term, but it is a popular one. The term refers to the moon's closeness to earth during its orbit, specifically when it is at the closest point. This causes the full moon to appear 14% bigger and 30% brighter to those of us enjoying the view from down below.
This winter has been, for many in the northern hemisphere, an unseasonably warm one so far. However, according to The Old Farmer's Almanac, Native American tribes often referred to December's full moon as the full cold moon and the long nights moon because of falling temperatures and declining daylight.
Compared to 2016, when the year ended with three consecutive Supermoons in the months of October, November, and December — 2017 might feel a bit anticlimactic. However, December's Supermoon will kick off a domino effect of its own: There are two more Supermoons on the way, both of which will occur in January 2018. There will be a full moon on New Year's Day, and another at the very end of the month, on January 31. Because it is the second full moon in one month, that January 31 moon will be known as a blue moon.
This is all to say that this weekend's Supermoon is just the beginning. Bundle up and head outside on the night of December 3, and early into the morning of December 4, for the best look at the moon. Then, prepare to do the same post New Year's Eve festivities.