The 2017 supermoon is super sky show

Story highlights

  • The supermoon is visible on the night of December 3
  • But if you miss it, there will be two more supermoons in January

(CNN)Stargazers, astronomers and curious sky-watchers are getting chance to witness the first and only full-moon supermoon of 2017.

On Sunday night, the moon shines 16% brighter and appears 7% larger than its usual size. Last year, a memorable supermoon was marked in the history books. In November 2016, the moon was closest to the Earth than it had been since 1948, producing a supersized supermoon.
    This supermoon will be the first in the series of three consecutive full moon supermoons, the next two will be in January.
    So when is the best time to look?
    Most astronomers suggest watching the supermoon right after sunset and into moonrise, and minutes before the next sunrise as well.
    According to timeanddate.com, the best time to enjoy a full moon supermoon is after moonrise when it is just above the horizon. At this point, a supermoon looks bigger and brighter than when it's higher up in the sky.
    While the moon officially reached its fullest Sunday morning, it will continue to appear "super" until it sets once again.
    And for anyone unable to step outside and see the moon, you can watch a livestream of the phenomenon.

    The science behind the supermoon

    Michelle Nichols, director of public observing at Chicago's Adler Planetarium, explained the moon's captivating close approach to the Earth.
    "The moon's orbit is not a perfect circle. It's more like an oval, so at times it's closer to the Earth than it is at other times. The difference in distance between these close and far points can be as much as about 30,000 miles."
    The distance between the moon and Earth constantly changes. Each time the moon orbits the Earth, every 29.5 days, it will reach a close point to the Earth (perigee), and a far point (apogee), and occasionally, the close point will be close to the date of the full moon or new moon, a supermoon.