Skygazers across the US will have the rare opportunity to view a ‘micromoon’ tonight, the earliest viewing times starting in the Pacific time zone with other following. The micromoon will happen on a notable date — Friday the 13th, making it a fun coincidence for most people. If you miss seeing the moon tonight, you won’t get the chance to see another micromoon for more than a year.
A micromoon is, as you may have guessed, the opposite of a supermoon; rather than appearing unusually large and bright, as is the case when the moon is closest to the Earth, a micromoon appears unusually small and dim due to being at its farthest point from our planet. Tonight’s full moon will be a micromoon.
The full moon will be visible starting tonight at 9:32 PM in the Pacific time zone — that’s 10:32 PM Mountain time, 11:32 PM Central time, and 12:32 AM on the East Coast. Notably, the moon will look around 30-percent less bright than usual, and it’ll also appear to be around 14-percent smaller than usual.
You may not notice much of a difference if you don’t make a habit of looking at the full moon, but someone who frequently watches the sky will likely get a sense of its distance due to the small changes in its appearance. The next micromoon isn’t expected to happen until October 2020.
According to NASA, this micromoon is officially known as the Harvest Moon because it is the full moon closest to the beginning of fall. This particular full moon is fairly notable, also going by names like the Barley Moon, Corn Moon, Fruit Moon, and Mid-Autumn Festival Moon.