This year, the full moons of October, November and December all take place when the moon is at its closest point of orbit to the Earth; A so-called Supermoon.
Have you ever looked up at the sky and saw a full moon so close you feel like you could almost touch it? If so, then you’ve spotted a supermoon. A Supermoon happens when a Full Moon or a new moon coincides with the moon’s closest approach to Earth. A Supermoon is also called perigee.
A Super Full Moon looks around 10 to 14% bigger than its normal size. Supermoons during the Northern Hemisphere winter months tend to look larger than the Supermoons that occur during the rest of the year.
A so-called Supermoon
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.
On Monday, the gap between the Earth and the moon close to its shortest point, known as the perigee – a distance of 221,525 miles. The last time the moon was this close to the Earth was in 1948.
The reason the distance varies is the moon’s slightly elliptical orbit. On average, it is 238,900 miles from the Earth, but at the perigee it is about five per cent closer. At its furthest orbital point from the Earth, the apogee, it is five per cent more distant.
Supermoons are fairly frequent, although November’s supermoon will be a once-in-a-generation sight. There are six supermoons in 2016. We’ve already had four, and after next week there’s one on December 14. After that, the event will not be matched until the moon makes a similar approach in 2034.
The term “Supermoon” is used by the media to describe our celestial neighbor when it gets up close.
Monday’s event was billed as the biggest and best in a series of three supermoons. The first was on October 16 and the third is due on December 14.