On Monday, Nov. 14, the full moon is extra close to Earth. The enthusiastic skywatchers are preparing for the most spectacular “supermoon” since 1948. The Earth’s satellite was closest to our planet – at just 221,525 miles – at 6:22 a.m. ET on Monday. Don’t worry, you can still watch the celestial event later today. If you miss it, you won’t get a chance to see a similar supermoon until November 25, 2034.
Watch the supermoon at 5:14 p.m. ET
NASA has described Monday’s celestial event as “undeniably beautiful.” The moon will appear about 7% bigger and 14% brighter than usual. David Kipping, an astronomy professor at the Columbia University, said you could watch it at 5:14 p.m. ET. Make sure to pick a place with the least light pollution for a clear sighting. Kipping says an optical illusion caused by the moon being so close to the horizon will make it appear larger, prompting people to measure it against familiar objects like monuments, trees, and houses.
The moon travels around Earth in an elliptical or oval orbit. So, sometimes the satellite is closer and sometimes it’s farther away from our planet. The average distance between the two bodies is 384,500 kilometers, but the distance varies throughout the year in the range of 363,396 km and 405,504 km. The moon is called supermoon when it is full as well as at its closest to the Earth.
Supermoon is not an astronomical term
The closest approach or perigee and the full moon aren’t always in sync because of the variations caused by the Earth’s orbit around the sun. In case you didn’t know, the supermoon is not a scientific term. The astronomical term is “perigee-syzygy.” But the media uses the term “supermoon” to describe this celestial event simply because it’s more catchy.
Neil de Grasse Tyson, the director of Hayden Planetarium in New York, has previously said the supermoon is over-hyped. Anyway, it will be above buildings, rooftops, trees, and will appear bigger because people will be comparing it to the foreground objects. The supermoon will look red and orange when it first rises. It will return to the normal yellow/white color as it rises up in the sky.
When will the biggest supermoon of 21st century occur?
Skywatchers in Australia were a little disappointed because of the thick clouds that obscured their view of the moon. The supermoon will affect the tides as well that are governed by the moon’s gravitational pull. When the moon is closer to our planet, the tides are slightly higher and there are greater variations between the tides.
The biggest moon of the 21st century will be seen on December 6, 2052. Supermoons aren’t that rare. According to Jim Lattis of the University of Wisconsin, one in every 14 full moons is a supermoon.
Photo by civsix