The second installment of this winter's trio of supermoons, sometimes nicknamed the Super Snow Moon, will peak today (Feb. 19), so don't forget to step outside and look up tonight.
The full moon technically occurs on at 10:53 a.m. EST (1553 GMT), but don't despair if the morning light washes out the moon at the time: to the unpracticed eye, it will still look full tonight. In fact, of the three "supermoons" that start 2019, today's full moon will be the biggest of the year.
If your weather looks threatening, you can also catch sight of the full moon online, thanks to live broadcasts from the Virtual Telescope Project based in Rome, beginning at 11:30 a.m. EST (1630 GMT), and from Slooh, beginning at 7 p.m. EST (000 GMT).
And it will be a particularly splendid sight, since the moon is at perigee just a few hours before it is full, hence the "supermoon" moniker. It will appear about 10 percent larger than an average full moon on account of being relatively close to Earth, just 221,681 miles (356,761 kilometers) away. [How the 'Supermoon' Looks (Infographic)]
We humans enjoy the full moon because the entire near side, the half of the moon that faces us, is bathed in sunlight. But that of course means that the opposite side of the moon, the far side, is experiencing its night — and on the moon, that lasts about two terrestrial weeks.
During lunar night on the far side, temperatures can drop as low as minus 310 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 190 degrees Celsius), as China's Chang'e- 4 lander and Yutu-2 rover have learned from their stay on the moon, which began on Jan. 3.
Both robots shut themselves down each night to wait out the cold. So tonight, as you look up at the full moon, spare a thought for the side of the moon you can never see directly and the two machines hard at work to solve its mysteries.
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