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Another supermoon

People have another chance to see the Earth’s moon up close this month during the last supermoon event of 2016.

“The best time to observe the moon is after 12 a.m. Wednesday (December 14) but before dawn that day while it is still dark,” said Dario dela Cruz, chief of astronomy of the State weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration.

Unless cloudy skies prevail, the moon during that period will appear bigger and brighter than usual, Dela Cruz said.

The moon then will still be hours away from being a full moon at 8:06 a.m. Wednesday (Philippine Standard Time) but will appear that way due to the celestial body’s more-than-usual nearness to Earth, he said.

The distance of the moon from the Earth then will not be the perigee or nearest, which for this month is 358,564.36 kilometers at 7:29 a.m. Tuesday (December 13), but will still be enough for a closer view of the celestial body, he pointed out.

Astrologer Richard Nolle coined the word supermoon in 1979 to describe the occurrence of either a new or full moon that is coming within 361,524 kilometers or 90 percent of its approach to Earth.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said that at present, supermoon broadly refers to a full moon that is closer than average to Earth.

The moon reaches its perigee and is closer to Earth at certain times as, according to NASA, the former revolves around the latter in an elliptical orbit.

Dela Cruz noted that the moon this early Wednesday can still be considered a supermoon since it is already nearing full moon state and is at closer-than-usual distance to Earth.

“For this December, it will be difficult to view the moon at perigee on Tuesday and when it becomes a full moon on Wednesday since both will occur during daytime,” he said.

He said if weather is favorable, however, people can still view the moon’s expected distinct appearance during pre-dawn hours on Wednesday.

According to NASA, a supermoon can be as much as 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than a full moon at its apogee or farthest distance from Earth.

Clouds and glare of urban lights can however mask such increase in the moon’s brightness, NASA noted. (PNA)