November 14: A date with Supermoon

In the second of third such instance this year, the supermoon will wow watchers as you will be able to see your own shadow in the moonlight

The last supermoon view from Jodhpur’s Umaid Bhavan
The last supermoon view from Jodhpur’s Umaid Bhavan

Grab your telescope, but even your naked eye will do. The November 14 ‘supermoon’ — a new or full moon when it is 90 per cent of its closest approach to Earth, causing it to appear up to 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter in the sky — will be the largest of its kind since 1948; also the closest and brightest supermoon of 2016.

‘A supermoon is undeniably beautiful. And we can multiply that beauty by three as 2016 comes to a close,’ said NASA in a statement, adding that the full moon won’t come this close to Earth again until November 25, 2034. Even more of an astronomical coincidence is that the November supermoon is the second in a trifecta of consecutive supermoons occurring in the last quarter of this year: the last supermoon occurred on October 16, followed by tonight’s (November 14) supermoon, with the last one of the year occurring on December 13.

“The moon does not move in a circular path around the earth—it’s orbit is elliptical,” said Mayank Walia, professor at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (Astronomy Department), explaining that this is why there was a certain point at which the moon was the closest to the Earth. “This coincidence of consecutive super moons occurring happens every once in 50 years on an average. One can expect an extremely bright night sky; you will be able to see your shadow in the moonlight.”

However, it is advised to ‘get your supermoon fix while you can’ as they are expected to get smaller in the distant future since the moon is slowly propelling itself out of Earth’s orbit, moving 3.8 centimeters farther from our planet each year.

According to NASA, the December 13 supermoon will be remarkable for a different reason: it’s going to wipe out the view of the Geminid meteor shower.

Bright moonlight will reduce the visibility of faint meteors five to ten fold, transforming the usually fantastic Geminids into an astronomical footnote.’

14%
Bigger than the usual moon size

30%
Brighter than you usually see

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