Backyard Observatory

The Second Supermoon of the Year Arrives Monday Night. Here's How to See It.

march supermoon 2020
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It's been a good month for anyone fascinated by the mysteries that lie beyond our planet. Already, NASA has shared an awe-inspiring image of Mars, and you can see Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars in the morning sky every day this month. Add to the list a bright supermoon coming this week.

The second supermoon of the year arrives the night of March 9. Look up early in the evening to see the moon at its fullest. Or, at least, as full as we're going to see it in North America. The moon (and its temporary mini-moon that won't be visible) will be at its closest approach to Earth at 1:48pm EST. However, in North America, that's during the day, and you aren't going to be able to see it. 

That makes the best time to look for the bright moon just after moonrise. According to Time and Date, that will be at 7:01pm in New York City, 6:59pm in Chicago, and 7:12pm in Los Angeles. 

What is a supermoon?

A supermoon is a sometimes controversial label. That's largely because there's debate about how we define "super" for the occasion. A supermoon is when the moon is within 90% of its closest approach to Earth in its elliptical orbit, making it brighter and larger than it usually appears. 

That part of its orbit where it's at its closest is called perigee. The furthest point of its orbit is called the apogee. A perigee moon is 14% brighter and 30% bigger than the moon at its apogee, per NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. That's a not-insignificant difference, but most full moons are not micromoons. The difference between an average full moon and a supermoon is less than that. 

This supermoon, sometimes called a Super Worm Moon, is the second in a series of four consecutive supermoons in 2020. (Though, some argue that there are fewer true supermoons this year, counting March as the first of those.) This one is going to be easy to spot since all it requires is looking up early in the evening. But, if you miss it, you're going to have a couple more chances to see the moon at its best in 2020.

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.