Got plans tonight, tomorrow morning? Whatever they are and wherever you are, you should include taking a peek at the Moon. Depending on when you were born doing so may be a once in a lifetime event as November’s Full Moon will be the closest one since January 26,1948 and will not be as close again until November 25, 2034 http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/see-the-biggest-supermoon-in-68-years/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=sky-mya-nl-161111&utm_content=896725_SKY_HP_eNL_161111&utm_medium=email .
November’s Full Moon will also be a Supermoon, a phrase that has become part of our popular culture in recent years but has been around since 1979 http://earthsky.org/space/what-is-a-supermoon . Just to be clear Supermoon is not an astronomical term. In each monthly lunar cycle while orbiting the Earth our Moon has a point where it is closest to the Earth - perigee - and when it is farthest - apogee. When the Full Moon occurs the same day as perigee, that is when it is a Supermoon. This can occur several times a year. In fact, we are in a stretch of 3 Supermoons in a row that ends with December’s Full Moon https://science.nasa.gov/news-articles/2016-ends-with-three-supermoons .
The closest the Moon can get to Earth is 221,500 miles https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_distance_(astronomy) and this month’s Supermoon will be 221,524 miles from Earth, so that is close! The actual moment when the Moon is closest will be tomorrow morning at 6:23 a.m. EST, just before the Moon will be setting in the West at 6:36 a.m. EST in Washington, D.C. The Moon is actually at Full phase later in the morning at 8:52 a.m. EST so observers out west will be able to view the Full Moon at its closest.
|2015 Full Beaver Moon|
Tonight you will see a glorious nearly Full Moon rising in the East after sunset. To find out when the Moon rises and sets for your location use this website https://www.timeanddate.com/moon/ . For Washington, D.C. moonrise is at 4:43 p.m. EST tonight.
To observe the Moon tonight and tomorrow morning try to find a horizon in the East and West that are clear of obstructions so you can see the Moon near the horizon. The Moon may have some color and it may appear large due to the Moon Illusion http://www.skyandtelescope.com/observing/moon-illusion-confusion11252015/ . The Supermoon is actually bigger than an average Full Moon but is hard to detect by eye. The Supermoon will also be brighter which may be apparent to observers.
This month’s Full Moon is also known as the Full Beaver Moon http://www.space.com/34662-november-supermoon-full-beaver-moon.html . If you want to photograph the “Full Beaver Supermoon” get these tips from NASA https://www.nasa.gov/feature/shoot-the-supermoon-like-a-pro .
Tonight at 8 p.m. I will be at Shenandoah National Park’s Skyland Conference Center talking about, what else, the Moon http://www.goshenandoah.com/activities-events/astronomy . Afterwards if the sky is clear we will enjoy views of the Moon and night sky. I hope you can join me.
To me the Moon is always special but tonight/tomorrow will be an event you can take part in that doesn’t happen very often - a really close Full Moon. Enjoy.
Sky Guy in VA