The Largest Supermoon Since 1948!

Nov 14, 2016 By James H, Young Editor
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Have you ever seen a supermoon? If not, you are in for a rare treat.

On Monday, November 14, the moon will be the largest it has been in nearly 70 years. Known as supermoon, it will be at least 14% bigger and 30% brighter than the smallest full moon. However, astronomers say that it is hard to see a noticeable difference unless you can see the moon rise or are along the coast. 

Lets take a look at what makes a supermoon, and some interesting facts around it.

Full Moons, Perigee

The orbit of the moon around the Earth is elliptical. An ellipse is a flattened circle, much like an oval or egg. Because of its path, there are times when the moon is closest to Earth -- known as perigee, and times when it is the farthest -- known as apogee. Also, when the moon is opposite the sun as it moves around, we see a full moon as it's fully lit up by the sun. In between, we see a crescent moon as only some reflected sunlight is seen.

The term "supermoon" describes a full moon that coincides with perigee, an event that happens about once a year. Actually, the official name for the supermoon is the perigee-syzygy. Perigee means "near Earth" and "syzgy" means an alignment of three celestial objects -- the sun, earth and moon in a straight line. About 30 years ago, Richard Nolle, an astrologer from the University of Florida, first coined the word “supermoon” to for this phenomenon.

When the new or full moon is about 361,524 kilometers (224,641 miles) away from Earth or less, it qualifies to be a supermoon. On Nov 14th, the moon will be at its closest at 221,524 miles from Earth.

Fun Facts About The Supermoon

You probably know the Earth pulls on the moon because of gravity, but did you know that the moon pulls back on the Earth? It’s true! In fact, the pull from the moon causes the water on Earth to be pulled toward it, creating the high and low tides like the ones you see at the beach. This supermoon, in particular, will have the strongest pull on Earth, probably creating the highest tide of the season.

This November supermoon has another interesting name to it - the Beaver Moon. According to Algonquin Native American folklore, the full moon in November marked the time to set up beaver traps before winter freezes the swamps.

Another fact - because the definition of the supermoon is so broad (the range of distance is still pretty far), there are approximately 4 to 6 supermoons every year.  However, what qualifies to be the largest supermoon only occurs once in every few decades. This upcoming supermoon is the largest moon so far in the 21st century. The next supermoon that is even closer to Earth after November 14th is November 25, 2034. The closest, and the largest, supermoon of this century will come on December 6, 2052.

Don’t miss the supermoon on November 14th!