"Snow moon" 2019 will be this year's brightest "supermoon"

By Eric Mack

/ CNET

"Super blood wolf moon" to light up the sky

Another supermoon is set to grace the celestial stage Tuesday evening, and it's the largest and brightest our natural satellite will appear all year.

We get a supermoon when the moon is full or nearly full and also at its closest point to Earth along its slightly elliptical orbit. This close approach is called perigee by astronomers. In 2019, there are three supermoons and they fall in the first three months of the year.

You may recall in January we had the spectacle of the "super blood wolf moon" in which a lunar eclipse or "blood moon" coincided with a supermoon and the first full moon of the calendar year, traditionally called the wolf moon.

Tuesday evening will bring the "super snow moon." Due to a number of nuances in the interactions between the sun, Earth and moon, the distance between us and and each supermoon varies a bit. It just so happens that this week's perigee will be about 362 miles closer to us than last month's supermoon, according to NASA.

The full moon is seen in Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture on February 19, 2019; the phenomenon of "supermoon'' happens when the orb is at its closest point to Earth and looks larger than usual Katsumi Tanaka / AP

You'd need to have a remarkably trained eye to notice the difference between each supermoon. It's hard enough to even see the difference between a regular full moon and a supermoon, which only appears up to 14 percent larger in the sky and maybe 30 percent brighter.

If you really want to be wowed, your best bet is to check out the full moon when it rises in the east as the sun is setting in the west. This is when it will appear to be biggest, although this is mostly due to an optical illusion.

This happens when the moon is close to the horizon and there are objects such as trees or buildings within our line of sight, NASA astronomer Mitzi Adams explains. "Because these relatively close objects are in front of the moon, our brain is tricked into thinking the moon is much closer to the objects that are in our line of sight," Adams says.

Adams adds that you can check the effect by holding a coin at arm's length so it covers the moon. Do this at moonrise when the moon appears huge on the horizon and later when it looks smaller high in the sky and you'll see that the same size coin covers the moon the whole night.

It should be obvious why a February full moon is traditionally called a "snow moon" in the United States. The second calendar month is historically more filled with fluffy white precipitation than any other.

This also means the super snow moon has a better chance of being blocked from view by, well … snowfall. If that happens, there's still the third and final supermoon of 2019, which comes in exactly four weeks, on March 19.

This article first appeared in CNET

First published on February 19, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

Eric Mack

Crave freelancer Eric Mack is a writer, radio producer, and podcaster based in Taos, N.M., but he lives in Google+. He's also managing editor of Crowdsourcing.org and has written e-books on both Alaska and Android. E-mail Eric.

Twitter Supermoon in Nobeoka, Japan

Bernie Sanders announces he's running for president in 2020

The longtime independent senator from Vermont told "CBS This Morning" he's running for president again in 2020

updated 0M ago

Rod Rosenstein will be leaving Justice Department next month

The deputy attorney general was expected to leave his post after the new attorney general was confirmed, and William Barr is now in place

updated 18M ago

West Virginia teachers going on strike again

First walkout set off nationwide "Red4Ed" movement that included strikes in Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona, Washington state, L.A. and Denver

1H ago

Drama: People in gondolas over bay at SeaWorld San Diego rescued

It took roughly four hours; the park blamed an "unusual gust of significant wind" for the problem with its Bayside Skyride

3H ago

4 dead, including children, in western Michigan shooting

Officials in Kent County, Michigan, say they are not searching for a suspect in the shooting at a home Monday

7H ago

Bernie Sanders announces he's running for president in 2020

The longtime independent senator from Vermont told "CBS This Morning" he's running for president again in 2020

updated 0M ago

Rod Rosenstein will be leaving Justice Department next month

The deputy attorney general was expected to leave his post after the new attorney general was confirmed, and William Barr is now in place

updated 18M ago

Roger Stone apologizes for Instagram post

Former longtime Trump adviser told CBS News someone who works for him posted the image

8H ago

16 states sue Trump over emergency declaration for border wall

Bypassing Congress, President Trump declared a national emergency last week to access billions of dollars in funds to construct a border wall

9H ago

GOP candidate wants to be called "Trump!" on ballot

Carl Nett, a Republican candidate for Kentucky secretary of state, said "Trump!" was his "bona fide nickname"

9H ago

Americans, reportedly heavily armed, detained amid Haiti unrest

Reports in local media say 5 U.S. nationals held after group of 8 people found near national bank with unlicensed weapons

updated 33M ago

Vatican hopes sexual abuse summit will be a turning point

Organizers of an extraordinary summit said they hope it will mark a "turning point" in the Catholic church's approach to clergy sex abuse

11H ago

Trump declares U.S. will never be socialist like Venezuela

The president says all options are on the table in Venezuela

12H ago

Black snow falls from the sky in Siberia, and it's toxic

A pall of eerie black snow covered several towns in the Siberian region of Kuzbass, home to 2.6 million people and one of the world's largest coal fields

18H ago

Preserving the sounds of rare Stradivarius violins

In Cremona, Italy, the birthplace of Antonio Stradivari, an ambitious recording project aims to immortalize some of the finest musical instruments ever made

19H ago

Brothers questioned in Jussie Smollett case speak out

Ola and Abel Osundairo went from persons of interest in the case to potential suspects to being released without charges

14H ago

21 Savage on his immigration case: "I'm not leaving without a fight"

The rapper opened up about his time in ICE custody and how his uncertain immigration status shaped him into the man he is today

15H ago

Preserving the sounds of rare Stradivarius violins

In Cremona, Italy, the birthplace of Antonio Stradivari, an ambitious recording project aims to immortalize some of the finest musical instruments ever made

19H ago

Jussie Smollett: Timeline of alleged hate crime on "Empire" actor

The alleged attack of "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett has sprawled into a three-week saga of confusing reports and contradictions

15H ago

NYPD investigating commander accused of telling officers to shoot 50 Cent

"The matter is under internal review," the NYPD spokesperson told CBS News

Feb 17

"Snow moon" 2019 will be this year's brightest "supermoon"

All 3 of this year's supermoons fall between January and March; here's how to get the best views of this one

updated 1M ago

Misinformation online helps fuel measles outbreak

Tech companies like Facebook and Google are being criticized for the role false medical information may have played in the ongoing measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest​

17H ago

Amazon wants half of shipments to be carbon neutral by 2030

Ecommerce giant has faced criticism for not doing enough in the fight against climate change

9H ago

Black snow falls from the sky in Siberia, and it's toxic

A pall of eerie black snow covered several towns in the Siberian region of Kuzbass, home to 2.6 million people and one of the world's largest coal fields

18H ago

Twitter, Snap CEOs to be invited to international "fake news" hearing

They're on a list that includes a dozen of the world's most powerful tech leaders, including Apple's Tim Cook, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg

19H ago

Mediation program helps patients fight surprise medical bills

In 2018, the Austin, Texas, program negotiated $9.7 million worth of bills, saving patients $8.4 million in medical expenses

9H ago

Can weighted blankets really help you sleep better?

Weighted blankets have become popular, but do they really deliver on their promise of reducing stress and helping you sleep?

14H ago

Misinformation online helps fuel measles outbreak

Tech companies like Facebook and Google are being criticized for the role false medical information may have played in the ongoing measles outbreak in the Pacific Northwest​

17H ago

More sickened from salmonella linked to turkey

Since the outbreak began, more than 100 people have been hospitalized

18H ago

FDA approves device to treat heart defect in tiniest babies

Smaller than a pea, the device from Abbott can be implanted in premature babies weighing as little as 2 pounds

Feb 15

After Amazon's HQ2 hunt, some states target corporate tax breaks

The retail behemoth has sparked a backlash against the kind of deal secured from New York before dumping it

13H ago

How CVS is becoming a full-service health care provider

In addition to in-store clinics, it's testing much broader "HealthHUB" stores as it integrates its Aetna purchase

15H ago

Amazon wants half of shipments to be carbon neutral by 2030

Ecommerce giant has faced criticism for not doing enough in the fight against climate change

9H ago

Carmakers warn tariffs would drive up vehicle prices

Auto industry groups up in arms over a confidential Commerce Department report to President Trump

16H ago

Twitter, Snap CEOs to be invited to international "fake news" hearing

They're on a list that includes a dozen of the world's most powerful tech leaders, including Apple's Tim Cook, and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg

19H ago

4 dead, including children, in western Michigan shooting

Officials in Kent County, Michigan, say they are not searching for a suspect in the shooting at a home Monday

7H ago

Vatican hopes sexual abuse summit will be a turning point

Organizers of an extraordinary summit said they hope it will mark a "turning point" in the Catholic church's approach to clergy sex abuse

11H ago

Illinois "honor system" in question after deadly workplace shooting

Aurora's police chief says Gary Martin​ shouldn't have had the gun he allegedly used to kill five of his colleagues Friday

11H ago

Brothers questioned in Jussie Smollett case speak out

Ola and Abel Osundairo went from persons of interest in the case to potential suspects to being released without charges

14H ago

DNA leads to arrest in 1993 murder of woman found in dorm bathtub

Investigators in Alaska used genetic genealogy – the same technique used to ID the Golden State Killer suspect

12H ago