The Super Moon on November 14, 2016, will be the closest a Full Moon has been to Earth since January 26, 1948. The next time a Full Moon is even closer to Earth will be on November 25, 2034 (dates based on UTC time).
What Is A Super Moon?
A Supermoon happens when a Full Moon or New Moon coincides with the Moon’s closest approach to Earth; also called perigee. A Super Full Moon looks around 12% to 14% bigger than its counterpart, the Micromoon.
- Supermoon: A Full or New Moon that occurs when the center of the Moon is less than 360,000 kilometers (ca. 223,694 miles) from the center of Earth.
- Micromoon: A Full Moon or New Moon that takes place when the center of the Moon is farther than 405,000 kilometers (ca. 251,655 miles) from the center of Earth.
Because it’s so close to Earth, a Super Full Moon looks about 7% bigger than an average Full Moon. When compared to a Micromoon, it looks about 12% to 14% larger.
A Super Full Moon also looks about 30% brighter than a Micro Full Moon and about 16% brighter than an average Full Moon.
Next Perigee 14 nov 2016, 12:20 Distance: 356.509 km / 221.524 mi
Next Apogee 27 nov 2016, 21:08 Distance: 406.554 km / 252.621 mi
Technical Name: Perigee-syzygy
The term Supermoon is not used within the astronomical community, which uses the term perigee-syzygy or perigee full/new moon
The name SuperMoon was coined by astrologer Richard Nolle in 1979, arbitrarily defined as:
… a new or full moon which occurs with the Moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit (perigee). In short, Earth, Moon and Sun are all in a line, with Moon in its nearest approach to Earth.
Nolle also claimed that the moon causes “geophysical stress” during the time of a supermoon. Nolle never outlined why the 90% was chosen.
The technical term for a Supermoon is perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. In astronomy, the term syzygy refers to the straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies.
What Is The Best Time To Watch The Super Moon?
Moonrise is the best time to view the Moon, weather permitting, of course. At this time, illusion mixes with reality to make a low-hanging Moon that looks unnaturally large when compared to foreground objects.
The moon turns precisely full on November 14, 2016 at 1352 UTC. This full moon instant will happen in the morning hours before sunrise November 14 in western North America and on many Pacific islands, east of the International Date Line. (See worldwide map below.)
In Asia and Australia, the moon turns precisely full during the evening hours of November 14. In New Zealand, it actually happens after midnight November 15.
Around the longitudes of Europe or Africa, look both nights!
The moon will look plenty full and bright all night long on both nights – November 13 and 14 – as it rises in the east around sunset, climbs highest up around midnight, and then sets in the west at or near sunrise.
Bigger in Winter
Supermoons during Northern Hemisphere winter months tend to look larger than Supermoons that occur during the rest of the year. At this time of the year, Earth is closer to the Sun. Because of this, the Sun’s gravity pulls the Moon closer to Earth, making any winter Super Full Moons look bigger than summer Super Full Moons.
The Full Moon Cycle or Moon Phases
The full moon cycle is the period between alignments of the lunar perigee with the sun and the earth, which is about 13.9443 synodic months (about 411.8 days). Thus approximately every 14th full moon will be a supermoon. However, halfway through the cycle the full moon will be close to apogee, and the new moons immediately before and after can be supermoons. Thus there may be as many as three supermoons per full moon cycle.
Since 13.9443 differs from 14 by very close to 1⁄18, the supermoons themselves will vary with a period of about 18 full moon cycles (about 251 synodic months or 20.3 years). Thus for about a decade the largest supermoons will be full, and for the next decade the largest supermoons will be new.
The tides on Earth are mostly generated by the Moon’s gravitational pull from one side of Earth to the other. The Moon’s gravity can cause small ebbs and flows in the continents called land tides or solid Earth tides. These are greatest during the Full and New Moons because the Sun and Moon are aligned on the same or opposite sides of Earth.
When the Moon is closer to Earth, the gravitational pull leads to larger variation between high and low tides. It also causes higher spring tides, known as perigean spring tide or the more colloquial term, king tide. It has nothing to do with the season spring, but rather it is a synonym to jump or leap. King tides may cause abnormally high flooding in coastal areas.
The tides are smaller during Micromoon because the Moon is farther away and the lower gravitational pull leads to a smaller variation between high and low tides, known as neaps or neap tide, from Anglo-Saxon, meaning without the power.
Is The Super Moon A Natural Disaster Trigger?
Although the Sun and the Moon’s alignment cause a small increase in tectonic activity, the effects of the Supermoon on Earth are minor. Many scientists have conducted studies, and they haven’t found anything significant that can link the Super Moon to natural disasters.
According to NASA, the combination of the Moon being at its closest and at Full Moon, should not affect the internal energy balance of the Earth since there are lunar tides every day.
Don’t forget to watch this beauty!
Several channels to choose from. Click on the left upper corner of the video to choose.