Perhaps it's fitting that 2016 be capped off with two big celestial events — on the same night. So what does it mean when a supermoon and a meteor shower happen simultaneously? Well, like everything else in this year, it's detrimentally extra.
Despite its name, a "supermoon" doesn't hold a whole lot of additional super powers — it just means that it's an especially big full moon. A supermoon occurs when a full moon coincides with perigee, the point during its monthly cycle when the moon is closest to Earth. It's very straightforward, really: The closer to Earth the moon is, the bigger it appears to us here on the planet's face. 2016 will feature six supermoons in total; what's more three of them are set to happen back to back: October, November, and December each have had or will have their own very big, very beautiful lunar moment.
The December sky is also traditionally the stage for the Geminid meteor shower, an annual show of "falling stars" that only began being observed about 150 years ago — relatively recently, in terms of big time celestial events. Though a number of reoccurring meteor showers originate with a comet, the source of the Geminids is actually an asteroid, the 3200 Phaethon. The Geminids are considered one of the most prolific celestial shows of the year, averaging 120 meteors per hour during its peak.
The main consequence of the supermoon/meteor shower combo, which will occur on Dec. 14, is that the additional light from the moon will reduce visibility of meteors five- to tenfold. What is normally an incredible display will be a fleeting moment in the sky, easy to miss but there nonetheless.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, both supermoons and meteor showers hold significance in the astrological world as well. As they are essentially 'roided up versions of already-powerful full moons, supermoons are considered to be The Time to get your ish together. While it would have been nice for the United States to collectively get its shit together during the first of these three supermoons — well, it's not good to ruminate. Focus on you.
New moons are for finding the door; full moons are for walking through it. This year was tough, and 2017 almost certainly won't be all milk and honey — but cultivating kindness, engaging in radical hope, and remembering that love is an active verb are tools of survival. Set your intentions for the next year. Practice forgiveness with yourself.
Lisa Bonet knows what's up.
Meteor showers, meanwhile, are believed to give us perspective. They force us to take a step back, to shed our blinders and remember that we are very small, and the world is very big. Our tradition of wishing upon falling stars comes from the Greek philosopher Ptolemy's belief that they were evidence the gods were paying attention, looking down with curiosity at the mortal sphere. Remember that the weight of the world does not rest solely on your shoulders, and there is so much more in this existence than we even have the ability to grasp. Let yourself feel small. It's OK to do that every once in a while.
Then get to work making the world you want to live in.
Images: Getty Images; Giphy (3)