Here is some news that we can all agree will be most awesome.
On Monday, Nov. 14th, there’s going to be a full Moon–the biggest and brightest in almost 70 years. The best time to look in North America is before sunrise on Monday morning, while in Europe the best time is after sunset on the same day.
“The last time we had such a close full Moon was January 26, 1948,” says Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory, “and it won’t happen again until November 25, 2034.”
Full moons vary in size because the Moon’s orbit is not a circle, it’s an ellipse: diagram. One side of the Moon’s orbit, called “perigee,” is 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other side, “apogee.” This Monday’s “supermoon” becomes full about 2 hours away from perigee, a coincidence that makes it as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser moons we have seen in the past.
But will we be able to tell the difference … just by looking? A 30% difference in brightness can easily be masked by clouds or the glare of urban lights. Also, there are no rulers floating in the sky to measure lunar diameters. Hanging high overhead with no reference points to provide a sense of scale, one full Moon looks much like any other.
“I think that the hype over the term ‘supermoon’ is a bit overblown,” says Chester. “In my book every full Moon has something to offer!”
To get the most out of Monday’s apparition, try to catch the Moon just as it is rising or setting. This will activate the Moon Illusion and make the perigee Moon of Nov. 14th look super, indeed.