Skywatch: Up in the sky... it's a supermoon

Skywatch: Up in the sky... it's a supermoon
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The week will start out with a Full Moon at 10:47 Sunday morning. This month’s Full Moon is also called Full Cold Moon because the temperatures fall fast as we move through the month of December. It is also known as the Full Long Nights Moon as this is the time when the nights are at their longest.

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Because the lunar perigee – or when the moon is closest to the Earth in its orbit – happens within 24 hours of the full moon it can be called a supermoon. This is actually the only supermoon that coincides with a Full Moon this year. The perigee is on December 4th at 3:42 in the morning when the moon will be 222,443 miles from us. If you step out on Sunday night and the moon looks a little bigger and brighter, up to 14 percent bigger and up to 30 percent brighter than you are used too, you are not imagining things.

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This week will also see the earliest sunsets of the year. Because the clock and the sun are not synched on the same cycle the time between two successive solar noons (when the sun is at its highest point in the sky) is hardly 24 hours on the dot. As a result solar noon will be a little earlier than actual noon on December 7th. We will hit that milestone at 11:52 in the morning which means the sunset will be that much earlier. According to sunrise-sunset.org that sunset on Thursday will be 46 seconds after 5:06 P.M.

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If you are up early look for Jupiter and Mars in the southeastern sky before sunrise. The two will be above the horizon looking like bright stars with Jupiter as the lower of the two. On Friday morning Venus will briefly join the two before all three get washed out by the sun’s glare. If you live in an area with a clear view of the horizon you’ll have the best chance of seeing all three planets. Venus will hang very low in the sky. As always we have to add a disclaimer this time of year – this is what you can see WHEN mother nature cooperates and clears out the skies. Happy hunting!