The “Super SuperMoon”

November 11, 2016


The full moon of November 14, 2016 will be the closest Supermoon to Earth since January 26,1948. The full moon won’t come this close again until November 25, 2034. Thus the November 2016 full moon is the closest and largest Supermoon in a period of 86 years!

The moon turns precisely full at 7:52 am CST on Monday, November 14 so the evenings of the 13th and 14th are best for seeing the larger full moon. Because it is opposite the sun in Earth’s sky, the full moon rises in the east at sunset, is high overhead at midnight, and sets in the west at sunrise. Thus this special Supermoon can be seen all night long.

To have a Supermoon, the moon must be full at the place in its orbit where it is closest to the Earth (called perigee). This November the full moon occurs within an hour and a half of perigee. On November 14, 2016 at 5:23 am CST, the distance between the moon and Earth will shrink to its smallest distance for the year: 221,524 miles (356,509 km). This super supermoon will be about 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than a normal full moon in Earth’s sky.

During a full moon, you can enjoy an interesting optical illusion by comparing the moon at moonrise (sunset) and the moon overhead (near midnight). The moon is not quite round and definitely orangish at moonrise. These are only atmospheric effects. Also the rising moon looks much larger than the moon high in the sky. This is an optical illusion: the moon is the same color, size, and shape all night long. Compare the moon to your thumb at moonrise and when the moon is overhead. The moon is actually the same width, even during the “Super Supermoon”.

Come to the Burke Baker Planetarium on the November 12-13 weekend to see a demonstration of the “Super Supermoon” in our Starry Night Express program.

Carolyn S
Authored By Carolyn S Sumners

Carolyn is VP of astronomy for the Museum; she develops Planetarium shows for the Museum that tour all over the world, developed the very first Challenger Learning Center and runs the Museum’s George Observatory in Brazos Bend State Park. In her spare time, she does research in the field of archaeoastronomy, which attempts to replicate the night sky at critical moments in history.

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