Supermoon or meteor shower? I hope you are a fan of supermoons. You are about to get a double dose of them. Next Monday (Nov. 14), the Moon’s orbit will line up just right to give us a full moon right as it hits perigee. That’s when the moon is at its closest point to Earth.
Because the moon’s orbit is elliptical, there’s about a 30,000-mile difference between perigee (the closest point) and apogee (the furthest point).
Last month began three straight months of supermoons. On October 16, the moon became full on the same day as perigee. November 14’s supermoon will be a little bit better as it becomes full within two hours of perigee.
Supermoon vs. regular full moon
It’s all about positioning. If you take a full moon at perigee (closest) versus one at apogee (furthest), the differences can be stark. A supermoon will be 14% bigger and 30% brighter than an apogee moon. It’s much more noticeable the further you are away from city lights. I’ve seen them shine bright enough that I don’t even need a flashlight to walk my dogs late at night.
November 14’s supermoon gets a bump because it will be the closest full moon so far in the 21st century. You’ll be waiting until November 25, 2034 to see a full moon this close again.
If the weather cooperates, take a walk outside next Monday and bask in the glow of the best full moon so far this century.
December’s supermoon claims a victim
Credit: Jeff Dai via NASA APOD
The trio of supermoons wraps up on December 14. And this one comes with a price. The Geminid meteor shower. Geminids will begin streaking across the sky on December 4, but the shower is expected to peak on the 13th.
The Geminids are one of the most consistent meteor showers out there. With the summer haze gone, it’s one of the favorites for amateur skywatchers across the U.S. But this year, a bright, nearly full moon will drench much of the sky in light.
With no moon, the Geminid meteor shower is good for 50-120+ meteors per hour. This year? You’ll be lucky to spot a dozen or so per hour. The good news is, the meteors you do see will be the best ones. It’s going to take a bright meteor to overcome the glare from the supermoon.
Grab a jacket and take a peek at the best moon in years
Take a walk outside shortly after sunset on November 14th. Check out this website to see exactly when the Supermoon is expected to rise. If you time it just right, you can take advantage of the ‘moon illusion.’
Have you ever seen how the moon looks larger when it’s near the horizon? It’s an optical illusion. The moon’s not really bigger, but it can make for stunning pictures.