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Smallest Full Moon of 2015 Packs a Light-Filled Punch

The smallest full moon of the year and the third—and last—of this long, cold winter falls on March 5.
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It’s the antithesis of a supermoon: With fullness falling just as the moon reaches apogee, the moon may be full but it will be noticeably smaller.

The Abenaki call it the mozokas, or moose hunter moon, while it’s known to the Anishnaabe, or Ojibwe/Chippewa, as bebookwaadaagame-giizis(oog), or snow crust moon, according to the planetarium at Western Washington State University. The perhaps more optimistic (or more southerly) Creek call it tasahcucee, little spring moon. To the Shawnee it’s shkipiye kwiitha, or sap moon.

Regardless of moniker, the full moon of this particular March is the farthest our satellite ever manages to pull away from Earth.

“At 2:33 a.m. EST, the moon stands 252,516 miles (406,384 kilometers) from Earth’s center,” Astronomy.com says. “This makes tonight’s full moon the smallest of 2015.”

This makes it a micro-moon or mini-moon, according to Earthsky.org, because it is about 30,000 miles farther away from Earth than closest full moon of 2015 will be. That’s the September 28 Harvest Moon and biggest super moon, Earthsky.org says.

The time of actual fullness falls on Thursday March 5 at 1:05 p.m. Eastern Time.

“It appears low in the east as darkness falls and climbs highest in the south shortly after midnight,” Astronomy.com says.

It’s the third full moon of 2015, the last one of this long, cold winter, and is unusual in that normally only two would fall during this season, according to Earthsky.org. And, while the March 4 moon will look full, it will not actually reach that point until midday on the fifth.

“Tonight’s moon might look full, but the crest of the moon’s full phase comes on March 5, 2015 at 18:05 Universal Time, or 12:05 p.m. Central Standard Time,” says Earthsky.org, comparing the March 4 and 5 moons. “This March full moon will be the third of 2015. It’ll be the Northern Hemisphere’s third and final full moon of winter and the Southern Hemisphere’s third and final full moon of summer. So full moon is tomorrow. But tonight, no matter where you live on Earth, look for the moon to look plenty full as it shines from dusk until dawn.”

And on Thursday night, there will be even more light.

“No matter where you live worldwide, look for the moon to appear plenty full tonight, lighting up the nighttime from Thursday nightfall until dawn Friday,” Earthsky.org says of the March 5 moon. “As with any moon at the vicinity of full moon, tonight’s moon rises in the east at early evening, climbs highest in the sky around midnight and sets in the west in the vicinity of sunrise.”