February astronomy events to look for: supermoon, snow moon, lunar occultation

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Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Mark these astronomy events in your February calendar
The first of four supermoons will rise on the night of Feb. 8-9.

It'll be a 'super' weekend for astronomers as part of a busy month for all things sky and space.

The first of four supermoons will rise on the night of Saturday, February 8. This will be the first of four supermoons this year, with others expected in March, April and May. The moon will appear much brighter and larger than usual.

A supermoon happens when the moon's orbit is closest to Earth at the same time it's full. NASA says the 'supermoon' term was coined in 1979 and is used to describe what astronomers call a perigean full moon.

Saturday will also bring a February full moon, typically called the snow moon since it coincides with the peak of winter.

Before sunrise on Feb. 18, Mars will disappear behind the moon at 6:29 a.m. This is called a lunar occultation. Mars will reappear on the other side roughly 90 minutes later.

This February features an extra 29th day because 2020 is a leap year. Leap years are once every four years as it takes the earth 365.25 days to orbit the sun.