How to View the Last Supermoon of the Year

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Stargazers, take note: The full moon on Thursday night will be slightly larger and more vibrant than usual. It’s also the last supermoon of the year, according to NASA.

The Sturgeon Moon — according to a 1930s edition of the Maine Farmer’s Almanac, the Native Algonquin people gave it that name for the large fish that are particularly abundant in the Great Lakes at this time of year — won’t be all that noticeable to casual observers. But experts said it was a reminder of the wonder of watching a full moon.

“It is bigger. It is brighter, technically, but not so much that you’d walk outside and feel naturally and instinctually something is super different,” said Jackie Faherty, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History. “That said, it is awesome to watch a full moon rise.”

Here’s what to know about the Sturgeon Moon and how to view it.

What is a supermoon?

The word, coined in 1979 by the astrologer Richard Nolle, is not an official astronomical term.

A supermoon is a full moon that occurs when the moon is at perigee, its closest point to Earth in its orbit. This is what makes a supermoon bigger and brighter than other full moons.

These celestial events occur about three or four times a year, NASA said. The most recent one was last month.

How noticeable is it?

It’s not all that noticeable. But it can still be a wonderful sight on a clear night, said Noah Petro, a planetary geologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

A supermoon is about 17 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than when a full moon is at apogee, or its farthest point from Earth, he said.

Even so, the distinction between a supermoon and a full moon that occurs when the moon is farther from Earth is subtle.

“The difference is only obvious in photographs comparing the perigee full moon with an apogee full moon,” said James Lattis, an astronomer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

When is it happening?

The moon has appeared full since Wednesday, but the Sturgeon Moon will appear at 9:36 p.m. Eastern time on Thursday, NASA said.

Dr. Faherty recommended that people who want to see the supermoon start earlier by watching the moon rise, shortly after sunset.

Thursday night will be a busy one for celestial events. The Perseids meteor shower, one of the most popular of the year, will peak Thursday night into Friday morning.

Also, Saturn will appear near the moon on Thursday night. On Sunday, it will be closest to Earth, and at its most vivid, than at any other time this year, according to NASA.

The moon will appear full through Saturday morning.

How can I see it?

Just go outside and look up. It might help to head somewhere with less light pollution.

“I’d suggest anyone who has clear skies tonight to head out around sunset and look to the east, as long as there are no tall trees or buildings blocking your view, and try to avoid bright lights,” Dr. Petro said.

“If it’s cloudy,” he said, “you can try tomorrow morning before sunrise or tomorrow night.”

NASA offers tips for photographing the moment in its full glory.

When is the next supermoon?

You’ll have to wait a year. The next one won’t happen until August 2023, Dr. Petro said.

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