A huge astronomical event will happen this very month, November 2016— the moon will not only be brighter but it will also be bigger because it is gonna be at its closest to our planet since it has been since January 1948. Yeps, you guessed right, it’s yet another supermoon!
Bigger & Brighter
The supermoon event will happen on November 14. The moon will be ‘bigger’ by 14%; it won’t literally change in size (of course), but our satellite will appear to be magnified because of the shorter distance between us. It will also be 30% brighter than usual. You might want to free your time already for the event because the next one will only happen in November 2034. Otherwise, you might remember the 2014 one— social media were flooded with spectacular pictures of the abnormally enormous moon.
The moon will be its biggest at 8:52am EST (1352 GMT) on November 14. For those in Australia, it will be at 12:52am AEST on November 15.
How will be the moon come closer? Scientists have explained that its orbit is elliptical such that one side (perigee) thereof is closer to our planet than the other side (apogee). The difference in distance is around 48,280 km. Furthermore, the earth, the moon, and the sun will be aligning, a phenomenon called syzygy. If, during the lining up, the perigee side of the moon faces our planet, and the moon is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun, the occurrence is called a perigee-syzygy. This state of affairs causes the moon to look bigger and brighter— the supermoon, or the perigee moon.
2016, The Year of Supermoons
We also had another supermoon event this year, back in October. And, we’re going to have another one on December 14. The November one will entail a full moon within 2 hours of perigee, and will thus be the biggest of them all.
“The full moon of November 14 is not only the closest full moon of 2016, but also the closest full moon to date in the 21st century,” says NASA. “The full moon won’t come this close to Earth again until 25 November 2034.”
Will Everyone See a Bigger Moon?
While the moon promises to look much bigger, not everyone on earth will be able to tell. It will be difficult for some to make the distinction between the November 14 moon and the usual moon because of the location from where they are doing the sighting. For example, if one is in a region with no building or landmark, one won’t be able to compare its size. However, if one is viewing it as it is closer to the horizon, the difference will be more conspicuous.
“When the moon is near the horizon, it can look unnaturally large when viewed through trees, buildings, or other foreground objects,” says NASA. “The effect is an optical illusion, but that fact doesn’t take away from the experience.”