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By Denise Chow
Skywatchers will have a special treat on Tuesday when the biggest and brightest supermoon of 2019 illuminates the night sky.
This will be the second time in the trio of back-to-back supermoons this year. The first took place on January 21st and the third will be on March 21st.
A supermoon is a full moon that occurs when the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its monthly elliptical orbit around our planet. As they are a little closer to us, supermons appear larger and brighter than ordinary full moons – although scientists are quick to say that the difference is usually so subtle that it is imperceptible.
"They are essentially the same," NBC News MACH Patrick Hartigan, an astrophysicist at Rice University in Houston, told NBC News. "You may be able to tell the difference from a normal full moon if you have a habit of watching a lot of them" – what Hartigan said is true for him.
This month, the moon will be closest to Earth at 4:07 am EST on February 19th. At this time – what astronomers call the lunar perigee – our natural satellite will be 221,681 miles from the planet. On average, the moon is about 240,000 miles from Earth; the largest distance the moon has from Earth – which is called the lunar climax – is about 253,000 miles.
The moon will not be completely full before 10:53 pm EST Tuesday.
February's full moon is sometimes called the "snow moon" in the folk tradition because of the heavy snowfall that is common in winter. No matter what you call this full moon, you will not need any special equipment to see it. .
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