Slooh and The Old Farmer’s Almanac take a look at the Mega Beaver Moon, the closest and brightest Full Moon in almost 70 years.
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If you step outside on November 14, you might notice the moon is looking bigger and brighter than usual.
This month’s supermoon, the penultimate of the year, will be the biggest so far of the 21st century.
We won’t see its like again until 2034, so make sure you get a look.
The term supermoon has entered popular consciousness in recent years. Originally a term from modern astrology for a new or full moon that occurs when the moon is within 90% of it’s closest approach to Earth in a given orbit, supermoon now refers more broadly to a full moon that is closer to Earth than average. But why is the moon closer to Earth at some times but not others?
Since the moon’s orbit is elliptical, one side (perigee) is about 30,000 miles (50,000 km) closer to Earth than the other (apogee). The word syzygy, in addition to being useful in word games, is the scientific name for when the Earth, sun, and moon line up as the moon orbits Earth. When perigee-syzygy of the Earth-moon-sun system occurs and the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun, we get a perigee moon or more commonly, a supermoon!
This coincidence happens three times in 2016. On October 16 and December 14, the moon becomes full on the same day as perigee. On November 14, it becomes full within about two hours of perigee—arguably making it an extra-super moon.
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. The full moon won’t come this close to Earth again until November 25, 2034. via NASA
A supermoon, or perigee full moon can be as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than an apogee full moon. However it’s not always easy to tell the difference. A 30% difference in brightness can easily be masked by clouds or the competing glare of urban lights.