When is the December Supermoon? Tonight!

It's the last full moon of 2016

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When is the December supermoon?

The final supermoon of 2016 will grace the night's sky later this week.

Although December's supermoon isn't set to be as big or bright as the one we witnessed in November, it's still worth looking out for.

See also: Airline offers special flights to see 'supermoon'

See also: British weather ruined our view of the supermoon, so we made our own fun

As long as there's not too much cloud, the full Moon will be an unmistakable white orb in the sky, appearing up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than an average full moon.

Seeing moonrise just after sunset or moonset just before sunrise will be an impressive sight, as it will appear enormous compared to the surrounding landscape.

What is a supermoon?

Credits: Rex

Rex

A supermoon usually takes place every one to two years, when the full moon coincides with its closest point to Earth during its monthly orbit.

Because the moon has an elliptical orbit, one side - called the perigee - is about 48,280 km (30,000 miles) closer to Earth than the other side (the apogee).

When the sun, the moon, and Earth line up as the moon orbits Earth, that's known as syzygy (definitely something you want to keep in your back pocket for your next Scrabble match).

When this Earth-Moon-Sun system occurs with the perigee side of the moon facing us, and the moon happens to be on the opposite side of Earth from the sun, we get what's called a perigee-syzygy.

Credits: Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo

Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo

That causes the moon to appear much bigger and brighter in our sky than usual, and it's referred to as a supermoon - or more technically, a perigee moon.

When is the next supermoon?

The next supermoon will appear in the sky on Tuesday, December 13. It will reach its closest point to the earth at around 23.33 GMT.

This is the third straight month where the full moon can be considered a "supermoon" - completing the so-called "trifecta".

Sunset in London will take place at 15.51, and the moon rise is expected at around 16.02, so you can watch out for it any time after that.

Credits: REX

REX

If you're out at a Christmas party that night, don't panic. The moon will also appear full to the casual observer the night before and after the main event.

Geminids

The supermoon of December 13 is going to wipe out the view of the Geminid meteor shower.

Bright moonlight will reduce the visibility of faint meteors five to ten fold, according to NASA, transforming the usually fantastic Geminids into an astronomical footnote.

Sky watchers will be lucky to see a dozen Geminids per hour when the shower peaks - but at least the moon will be remarkable.

Credits: Reuters

Reuters

How to see it

If you're planning on viewing the November 14 supermoon, be sure to get somewhere nice and dark, away from the lights of the city, if you can.

Hanging high overhead with no reference points to provide a sense of scale, one full moon looks much like any other.

Low-hanging moons, on the other hand, can create what's called a "moon illusion". When the moon is near the horizon it can look unnaturally large when viewed through trees, buildings, or other foreground objects.

Credits: Getty

Getty

The effect is an optical illusion, but that fact doesn't take away from the experience.

As long as the sky is clear, you'll have some awesome opportunities to take pictures, so check out our guide to taking photos of the supermoon here .