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Bright 'Buck' supermoon rises tonight

Here's what to know about the cosmic combo that creates a handful of supermoons each year.

NEW YORK — If you missed last month’s supermoon, you have another chance tonight. 

This month’s full moon is Wednesday. At the same time, the moon's orbit will bring it closer to Earth than usual. This cosmic combo is called a supermoon.

That can make the moon appear slightly bigger and brighter, weather permitting — though the difference isn't clear to the naked eye. It'll look biggest and fullest when it's close to the horizon due to perspective.

MORE: Why does the Moon look close some nights and far away on other nights?

One name for Wednesday’s full moon is the "Buck moon" — a reference to the time of year when new antlers are growing on male deer, or bucks. 

The supermoon on June 14 was the "Strawberry moon" because it’s the full moon at strawberry harvest time.

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What is a supermoon?

The moon's orbit around the earth is an ellipse, not a perfect circle. A full moon is considered a supermoon when it comes within 90% of perigee, its closest point to Earth. The perigee is about 226,000 miles from Earth — about 25,000 miles closer than the moon's furthest point. 

Credit: AP
A waxing gibbous moon is seen at 98% percent full as it rises near the Nubble Light, Monday, June 13, 2022, in York, Maine. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

According to NASA, the closest supermoons appear "about 17 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter" than the furthest, faintest moon of the year. That 17% isn't actually enough to make the moon look noticeably bigger, but NASA says supermoons are still a bit brighter than other full moons. They can also cause higher tides than usual due to their proximity to the Earth. 

Only three or four supermoons happen each year, always in a series.  

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