The last full moon of 2017 is going to appear a little bigger and brighter than most.
Dec. 3 will bring a supermoon, meaning a full moon that happens at perigee ― the time in the lunar cycle that the moon is closest to the earth. (A new moon at perigee is also sometimes called a supermoon, but those aren’t visible from Earth.) On this particular occasion, the moon will appear 7 percent larger and 16 percent brighter than usual, according to CNN.
Not only will this be the only full supermoon of 2017, it’s also going to kick off a series of three full supermoons in a row. The full moon on Jan. 31 will not only be a super moon, it’ll be a blue super moon — meaning the second full moon in a single month.
While some moongazers might be getting excited, some people think the hype around supermoons isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Evan Dashevsky of PC Mag slammed the term last year as “made up and a complete waste of everyone’s time.” He acknowledged that supermoons do appear bigger and brighter, but that realistically a “casual observer wouldn’t notice the difference.”
Geologist Steve Schimmrich made a similar argument back in 2012, though he did note that he would “always encourage people to go out and look up.”
That said, if the supermoon makes you want to go out and appreciate the sky’s beauty, we say go for it.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated incorrectly that the full moons of Jan. 2 and Jan. 31 would both be considered blue moons. Only the one on Jan. 31 would be a blue moon.