TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The second full moon of the year occurs tonight (Sunday morning) at 12:33 a.m. (MST). The February full moon is known most commonly as the snow moon for the abundance of snow in mid-winter.
February 2020’s full moon is also considered a supermoon, but only by some.
A supermoon is a full or new moon that makes a very close approach to earth on it’s elliptical (not circular) orbit. An ellipse is similar in shape to an oval.
If you stick earth inside an oval, you’ll notice that there is a point of apogee and a point of perigee. Apogee is the point farthest away from the earth.
Perigee is the point closest to earth.
Unfortunately, there is not an official measurement defining how close the approach has to come to be considered a supermoon.
Richard Nolle, the astrologist who came up with the term, arbitrarily stated the full or new moon could be considered a supermoon if it comes within 90% percent of perigee.
The problem comes in calculating 90% of perigee because apogee and perigee points change month to month. If the 90% is calculated based on the year’s farthest apogee and closest perigee, February’s full moon does not count as a supermoon. However, if it is calculated using this particular month’s closest and farthest point, the snow moon does come within 90% of the closest possible approach.
The February full moon will make the 4th closest approach to earth of the 13 full moons this year.
Regardless, it’s is close, the February full moon will come within 225,234 miles of earth. This will still affect tides with high tides being a little higher and low tides being a little lower than normal.