Prepare to be awed by the majesty of the galaxy. Another supermoon is on its way this week, and it’s set to be the biggest since 1948.
A supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with what scientists call the moon’s perigee — the point in its orbit when the moon is closest to Earth. We had one already on October 16 and will have another on December 14, but not all supermoons are created equal. This one, due on November 14, will be the closest the moon has come to us in almost 70 years. The full moon won’t be this close again until 2034.
The biggest and brightest version of this weekend’s lunar phenomenon will be visible on Monday morning just before dawn, but don’t panic if you’re not an early riser.
“I’ve been telling people to go out at night on either Sunday or Monday night to see the supermoon,” said Noah Petro, deputy project scientist for NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission. “The difference in distance from one night to the next will be very subtle, so if it’s cloudy on Sunday, go out on Monday. Any time after sunset should be fine. Since the moon is full, it’ll rise at nearly the same time as sunset, so I’d suggest that you head outside after sunset, or once it’s dark and the moon is a bit higher in the sky. You don’t have to stay up all night to see it, unless you really want to!”
According to NASA, a supermoon can be about 30 percent brighter and appear 14 percent larger than a normal moon. An optical illusion that occurs while the moon is close to the horizon, rising behind closer objects like trees or buildings, can make it appear even more mind-blowingly massive.
If you can’t get a good viewing spot or weather conditions are poor, the Slooh Community Observatory will be live streaming video of the supermoon with expert commentary from astronomers on their website and Facebook, as well as on Space.com.