The full moon that comes in February is traditionally known as the “Snow Moon” thanks to its occurrence in the heart of winter’s snowiest month. This year’s Snow Moon technically falls at 2:34 a.m. ET, but there will be pretty great lunar views all weekend. Because it’s not going to be just any Snow Moon: it will be a super Snow Moon.
According to NASA, a supermoon happens when the moon is both in its full phase and at its perigee, at the point in its elliptical orbit where it’s closest to earth, or about 226,000 miles away on average. Astronomers call this phenomenon a perigean full moon, but it’s been known more informally as a supermoon since 1979.
Given snow totals well below normal in much of the country this year, the name Snow Moon is something of a misnomer. But on the bright side, if the weather stays clear you and your family’s views of the supermoon should also be clear.
But if you aren’t blessed with good visibility, don’t worry. The super Snow Moon is the first of four super moons this year. The others will occur in March, April, and May: super Worm, Pink, and Flower Moons, respectively.
And while you’re out there, you can also catch a rare glimpse of Mercury, which will be visible in the western horizon about an hour after sunset. Venus will also be visible higher in the western sky.
So it’s shaping up to be a great weekend for stargazers, one that you won’t need a telescope to enjoy. Our advice is to bundle up, head outside with the family, and enjoy the light show Mother Nature is providing.