Supermoon finale: Wednesday will be last of 2019

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News
The supermoon hangs in the sky over Metro Detroit.

Wednesday night's full moon will be so close to Earth, the cow may not need a running start when she jumps over it.

That's because the third and last supermoon of 2019 will cross the sky on Wednesday. The first two were on Jan. 21 and Feb. 19.

It will come just ahead of the spring equinox, which marks the first official day of spring. Spring begins at 5:58 p.m. Wednesday. The supermoon will be fully visible at about 9:43 p.m., though forecasts warn of a possibility of rain in the Detroit area.

"We have the beginning of spring and we have a supermoon," said Michael Narlock, head of astronomy and the exhibits and web coordinator at the Cranbrook Institute of Science in Bloomfield Hills. "It will look pretty cool in our evening sky if it stays clear."

A supermoon happens when the moon is full and its orbit is closest to the Earth. The name was coined in 1979, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

"Supermoons look a little bigger in the sky," Narlock said. "And they are significantly brighter, up to 20 percent brighter than a regular full moon. People will notice that, if the skies stay clear."

He also said people who live near tidal regions may notice bigger tides than normal.

Narlock said the convergence of the equinox and the supermoon is just happenstance. 

"I think the last time a supermoon happened close to the spring equinox was about 19 years ago," he said. "It doesn't happen routinely."

The moon's orbit around the Earth is elliptical and the satellite is an average of 238,855 miles away, NASA said. Tuesday's moon will be about 223,308 miles from Earth.

In January, the supermooon was even closer, about 222,043 miles from Earth; it was about 221,681 miles away for its February encore.

MoreRemembering the super blood wolf moon

January's supermoon was known as a super blood wolf moon because a full moon in January is sometimes also known as the wolf moon or great spirit moon and it happened during a total lunar eclipse.
Twitter: @CharlesERamirez