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The Year's Biggest Supermoon Will Light Up the Sky on Tuesday

The second supermoon of a trio that starts the year arrives on February 19, and it's the biggest supermoon of the year. (This is the same event as the "super snow moon," the completely made-up name being used for this particular full moon...)

The second supermoon in a trio that starts the year arrives on February 19, and it's the biggest supermoon of the year. (This is the same event as the "super snow moon" you may have heard about. That's the completely made-up name being used for this particular full moon, the snowy cousin of the Super Blood Wolf Moon.)

The moon will be full on both February 18 and 19, but it'll be at the height of this phase on February 19, per EarthSky. The perigean full moon -- the term used by astronomers versus the more popular supermoon moniker -- occurs when the moon is full and within 90% of its perigee, the part of its elliptical orbit where it's closest to the Earth.

Many people say they can see the size difference between the supermoon and an average full moon even though the difference is awfully small. The moon only appears 14% larger in the sky versus when it's at its apogee, the furthest point of its orbit relative to Earth. However, it is 30% brighter and the combination can make the orb quite photogenic, as previously discussed by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls

As a bonus, when you're out looking up at our only natural satellite, you may notice a bright star accompanying the supermoon. If you're looking to impress your friends, casually drop that this is Regulus, the brightest star in the constellation Leo the Lion. 

If you missed January's lunar eclipse and can't catch the largest supermoon of the year, the third supermoon of this trifecta will arrive on March 21. It's worth catching because these are the only three supermoons of the year. The next one won't appear until March of 2020, and the next time the moon will be within 357,000 km after February 19 will be April 08, 2020. That will also be the second in a line of three straight supermoons.

If the weather isn't cooperating near you and you want to see it anyhow, there are live broadcasts online from the Virtual Telescope Project in Rome (starting at 11:30am EST) and Slooh (7pm EST).

But if you can manage it despite the cold, get out there an appreciate some natural beauty (or at least marvel at this incredible photo of the far side of the moon).


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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Writer on the news team at Thrillist. He always chooses moon when offered soup or moon. Follow him @dlukenelson.