The year is set to close with the biggest moon than most people alive will ever have seen. The satellite is set to get closer – and so brighter and bigger – than it has for almost 70 years on the 14 of November.
A supermoon happens because of the strange, egg-shaped orbit of the moon. One part of the orbit known as the perigee, is about 30,000 miles closer to earth than the apogee, or the furthest part.
And if the orbit of the moon lines up right with the sun and the Earth, it causes an effect called perigee-syzygy – meaning that the moon appears far bigger in the sky and gets called a supermoon.
Supermoons happen relatively often. But it’s very rare that they’re quite as big as the one coming this month. The moon is closer than it will be until 2034. And it will appear bigger than it has for almost 70 years – the last time it was so close was 1948.
Actually being able to tell the difference in the size is another thing, and mostly depends on the “moon illusion” rather than it actually expanding. When the moon is low-hanging, near the horizon, it can look extra big because of the trees or buildings in front of it – which is more of an optical illusion than a reflection of how big it really looks from Earth.
And that will be just one of three supermoons that will close out 2016, with the sight being visible when the moon is full in December too, as it was in October. Just as November’s full moon is notable for being so historically large, the December moon has its own distinguishing feature too, though it won’t be quite as spectacular. The December moon will block out the view of the Geminid meteor shower, meaning that almost all of the usual sight will be invisible because the moon will be so bright. The December moon will fall on 14 December. The October supermoon arrived on the 16th.