The Biggest Supermoon Since 1948 Is Coming

by Lily Feinn
German Vidal/Moment/Getty Images

Whether you are an astronomy fan or keep things more down to earth, the next big celestial event will be pretty hard to miss. On Monday, Nov. 14, the largest supermoon in nearly 70 years will light up the night sky. Not only does this moon boast the title of the "closest full moon of the 21st century," but moreover, nothing of this size has been seen since January of 1948. You'll have to talk to Grandma and Grandpa to get all the deets on its historical precedent, because seriously, you guys. This is big. Literally.

Just how bright is this coming supermoon compared to your run-of-the-mill full moon? November's full moon will appear 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a moon at its furthest point in orbit, making this a must-see lunar event. If you want to get any sleep come mid-November, I suggest making sure the blinds are tightly closed. Those who are as of yet unfamiliar with the term "supermoon" may be surprised to learn that we have actually already experienced one this fall (back in October); what's more, we'll experience one more in December before the year is out, too. The term, which began being used in astrology more than 30 years ago, refers to a full moon that is in its closest point to Earth in the trajectory of its elliptical orbit.

The moon makes its full circumnavigation of Earth every 27 days (and a few hours change), and according to NASA, sometimes, it's closer to our planet than others. The closest point is called "perigee," which is approximately 30,000 miles closer to Earth than the moon's farthest point in orbit (called "apogee"). Before "supermoon" entered the colloquial vocabulary, astronomers called this special lunar happenstance a "perigee full moon." A beautiful moon of the Nov. 14 supermoon's proportions will not be seen again till November of 2034.

The last supermoon of 2016, meanwhile, will occur on Dec. 14, and while it will not be as big and bright as November's, it will still be unique; the brightness of the full moon in December will block the view of the annual Geminid meteor shower. Nasa reports that "Bright moonlight will reduce the visibility of faint meteors five to tenfold, transforming the usually fantastic Geminids into an astronomical footnote. Sky watchers will be lucky to see a dozen Geminids per hour when the shower peaks." With October's Orionids and November's Taurids, it seems like this fall and winter season has been chock full of meteor showers, so I'm willing to give December's close moon a pass. (That's just me, though.)

As clouds and ambient light tends to obscure the brightness of the moon, for the best view of November's enormous moon, you may want to get to a dark spot away from city lights. However, you may want to compare it to a nearby landmark for scale, so a city view might actually be more instagramable. Either way, you'll want to look up come Nov. 14!

Images: German Vidal/Moment/Getty Images; Giphy; Marco_Langbroek/WikimediaCommons