'Super Snow Moon' to light up nighttime skies this weekend
Stargazers around the world will be treated to a beautiful sight this weekend as a "Super Snow Moon" lights up the nighttime sky.
The celestial event, which will reach its peak between Saturday, Feb. 8, and Sunday, Feb. 9, derives part of its name from Native American tradition and part from astronomy.
Native American tribes in the northeast dubbed the second full moon of every winter a "Snow Moon" because of February's high annual average rate of snowfall (snowy January's full moon is called a "Wolf Moon," since wolves tended to howl more often during that month, according to the Farmer's Almanac.)
This year's "Snow Moon" also happens to coincide with a "supermoon," making the event all the more delightful to see.
Any full moon is dubbed a "supermoon" when it occurs at the same time the moon is within 90 percent of its perigee, the point in its orbit at which it is closest to the Earth, making it appear up to 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual.
Although the event is scientifically measurable, the unofficial term "supermoon" was actually coined by an astrologer as recently as the late 1970s.
This weekend's "Super Snow Moon" will be officially full for observers on the East Coast of the U.S. on Feb. 9 at 2:33 a.m., according to Space.com, making Saturday night at moonrise the most ideal viewing time.
If you happen to miss out on this one, don't fret, as the next three full moons — the "Worm Moon" in March, the "Pink Moon" in April and the "Flower Moon" in May — will all be supermoons as well.