Supermoon is on its way! Joy for skywatchers as Earth's satellite will appear larger and brighter in the sky tonight

  • This year's Cold Moon is closer to Earth than the average full moon and so it will qualify as a 'supermoon' ?
  • It will appear 14 per cent larger in the sky and 30 per cent brighter than usual as it lights up the heavens?
  • The full moon will be 222,761 miles from Earth, which is significantly closer than its average 238,900 miles

Skygazers will be treated tonight to a bigger and brighter moon tonight as it moves closer to Earth.

December’s full moon - traditionally known as the Cold Moon - will appear 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than usual.

Tom Kerss, an astronomer at Royal Observatory Greenwich, said the exact moment of full moon - when the moon sits opposite the sun in the sky, which was 3.47pm today.

He added: ‘This year’s Cold Moon is closer to us than the average full moon this year; close enough to qualify as a supermoon, according to the widely accepted definition.

Tom Kerss, an astronomer at Royal Observatory Greenwich, said the exact moment of full moon - when the moon sits opposite the sun in the sky, which was 3.47pm today. Pictured: The moon rises behind the?Uppatasanti Pagoda seen from Naypyitaw, Myanmar,

Tom Kerss, an astronomer at Royal Observatory Greenwich, said the exact moment of full moon - when the moon sits opposite the sun in the sky, which was 3.47pm today. Pictured: The moon rises behind the?Uppatasanti Pagoda seen from Naypyitaw, Myanmar,

The red-tinted moon appears to sit on top of the?Uppatasanti Pagoda today. Traditionally known as the Cold Moon it will appear 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than usual

The red-tinted moon appears to sit on top of the?Uppatasanti Pagoda today. Traditionally known as the Cold Moon it will appear 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than usual

The December 3 full moon will be the first of three consecutive supermoons. It will reach its peak brightness and size on Monday morning

The December 3 full moon will be the first of three consecutive supermoons. It will reach its peak brightness and size on Monday morning

A statue of The Buddha watches on as the supermoon rises above Yangon, in Myanmar, which is the largest city in the country?

A statue of The Buddha watches on as the supermoon rises above Yangon, in Myanmar, which is the largest city in the country?

The moon will be visible from Earth with the naked eye, just as it always is. Although the moon is the biggest and closest it can be to us, don't expect too much. Pictured: The moon rises above a suspension bridge in Yangon, Myanmar

The moon will be visible from Earth with the naked eye, just as it always is. Although the moon is the biggest and closest it can be to us, don't expect too much. Pictured: The moon rises above a suspension bridge in Yangon, Myanmar

‘The moon will reach its highest point above the horizon at midnight local time. This is when, weather permitting, it will appear at its clearest and brightest.’

The moon has a slightly elliptical orbit - it does not move round the Earth in a perfect circle.

At some points it is about 5 per cent closer to Earth than average, known as perigee, and at others it is 5 per cent further away, known as apogee.

The full moon will be 222,761 miles from Earth, closer than its average 238,900 miles.?

During the moon's closest pass by Earth, it will be just 225,744 miles (36,3299 kilometres) away. That puts the moon nearly 26,000 miles (41,842 kilometres) closer to Earth. The phenomenon is pictured today rising above?Naypyitaw, Myanmar

During the moon's closest pass by Earth, it will be just 225,744 miles (36,3299 kilometres) away. That puts the moon nearly 26,000 miles (41,842 kilometres) closer to Earth. The phenomenon is pictured today rising above?Naypyitaw, Myanmar

Traffic buzzes along a busy highway in?Naypyitaw, the capitals of Myanmar, as the supermoon rises above the city

Traffic buzzes along a busy highway in?Naypyitaw, the capitals of Myanmar, as the supermoon rises above the city

WHAT IS A SUPERMOON AND HOW DO I SEE IT?

Today, the moon will appear 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than normal, as it is at its closest point to Earth

Today, the moon will appear 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than normal, as it is at its closest point to Earth

As the moon orbits the Earth every month, there is a point in every cycle where the moon is closest (perigee) and a point where it's farthest away (apogee).?

There is also a monthly lunar cycle where we can see varying amounts of the moon depending on it's position relative to Earth and the Sun.

For a supermoon to happen, these need to line up - something that will occur tonight.?

The celestial body will become totally full at 3.47pm but will reach its peak brightness and size on Monday morning.

The moon will be visible from Earth with the naked eye, just as it always is. Although the moon is the biggest and closest it can be to us, don't expect too much.

Lyle Tavernier, an expert at Nasa, said: 'Keep in mind that a 14 per cent increase in the apparent size of something that can be covered with a fingernail on an outstretched arm won't seem significantly bigger.

The moon will be visible from Earth with the naked eye, just as it always is. But although the moon is the biggest and closest it can be to us, don't expect too much

The moon will be visible from Earth with the naked eye, just as it always is. But although the moon is the biggest and closest it can be to us, don't expect too much

'Comparing a supermoon with a typical full moon from memory is very difficult.'?

With the moon being as close to Earth as it is, there is a significant impact on the tides.?

When the moon is closest, the tide will be at its highest, and the same happens with a new or full moon.

This happens on a monthly basis, but occasionally the point of perigee aligns with a new or full moon and results in a 'perigean spring tide'.

These are particularly high tides that can influence the oceans and raise sea level by a number of inches.?

An orange-tinted supermoon beams above in the skies of Yangon, Myanmar. Orange and red tints that the Sun and Moon sometimes take on are caused by the particles in the Earth's atmosphere

An orange-tinted supermoon beams above in the skies of Yangon, Myanmar. Orange and red tints that the Sun and Moon sometimes take on are caused by the particles in the Earth's atmosphere

The supermoon rises over a highway near Yangon today.?The first supermoon of the year was visible on January 12, and the second was on November 3

The supermoon rises over a highway near Yangon today.?The first supermoon of the year was visible on January 12, and the second was on November 3

Fair-goers enjoy a supermoon-lit Ferris wheel ride in Tokyo Japan.?The moon has a slightly elliptical orbit - it does not move round the Earth in a perfect circle

Fair-goers enjoy a supermoon-lit Ferris wheel ride in Tokyo Japan.?The moon has a slightly elliptical orbit - it does not move round the Earth in a perfect circle

A young child looks out of the Ferris Wheel carriage at the huge-looking supermoon at a fairground today in Tokyo, Japan?

A young child looks out of the Ferris Wheel carriage at the huge-looking supermoon at a fairground today in Tokyo, Japan?

The supermoon is seen behind plants on a balcony of a residential block in Hong Kong

The supermoon is seen behind plants on a balcony of a residential block in Hong Kong

Mr Kerss said: ‘During moonrise and moonset, you might think the moon looks unusually large, but this is an illusion created in the mind when it appears close to the horizon.

‘In fact, the change in the moon’s apparent size throughout its orbit is imperceptible to the unaided eye.

‘Nevertheless, the “moon illusion” can be a dramatic effect, and with the moon rising so early, there will be ample opportunities to see its apparently huge face juxtaposed with the eastern skyline.’

For those wanting to see the Earth’s natural satellite in greater detail, Mr Kerss advises using binoculars or a telescope and observing the dark maria - large, dark basaltic plains on the surface of the moon.

The first supermoon of the year was visible on January 12, and the second was on November 3.

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