The first and last visible supermoon of 2017 — there were three others that were impossible to see because they took place during the new moon phase — will occur this weekend on Sunday, December 3.
Also known as a perigean full moon or perigee syzygy, a supermoon happens when the moon is full at its closest point in its not-quite-circular orbit around Earth. Though the term has become popular recently, the difference in size is not that drastic — Neil deGrasse Tyson said it’s like calling a 16-inch pizza “super” compared to a 15-inch pie.
Nevertheless, NASA has some tips for capturing this lunar event. Their senior photographer, Bill Ingalls, says context is key:
“Don’t make the mistake of photographing the moon by itself with no reference to anything,” he said. “I’ve certainly done it myself, but everyone will get that shot. Instead, think of how to make the image creative—that means tying it into some land-based object. It can be a local landmark or anything to give your photo a sense of place.”
This is easiest to do as the moon rises, which will happen around 5pm this Sunday on the east coast.