Super-size—no I’m not talking about a large order of fries at McDonald’s. For those of you who are enamored by the moon and the stars, November 13 and 14 will provide a real treat with what is referred to as a Supermoon.
A Supermoon is when the moon’s elliptical orbit around the earth brings it to its closest point. There are three full moons in 2016 that meet the definition of a Supermoon – October, November, and December. But this November 14 full moon is the most super of the Supermoons! A super-duper moon!
At its furthest, the moon is 406,662 km (252,687 mi) away from the earth. This year’s orbit will bring the moon to within 356,509 km (221,523 mi) of the Earth. A difference of 31,164 miles.
The last time that the moon was this close to Earth was on January 26, 1948, when it came within 356,461 km or 221,495 miles of the earth.
Even to the naked eye, the Supermoon will appear quite a bit larger than a regular full moon, but it is difficult to judge just how much larger. The two photos below were taken during a regular full moon and a Supermoon from the same vantage points and using the same camera settings. You can see from the overlay how much visually larger the Supermoon is to the naked eye.
While beautiful to see, Supermoons also have a dramatic effect on the earth. For those of you living along the coast, the Supermoon will bring dramatically super high and low tides. Each month, on the day of the full moon, the moon, Earth, and sun are aligned, with Earth in between. This line up creates wide-ranging tides, known as spring tides. High spring tides climb especially high, and on the same day, low tides plunge especially low. Anyone up for digging clams?
Whether coincidence or not, a number of catastrophic events have also been linked to the timing of a Supermoon, within a few days before and after the actual event.
- Christchurch, NZ earthquake of February 22, 2011 (Supermoon Feb. 18)
- Hawke’s Bay, NZ earthquake of February 3, 1931 (Supermoon Feb. 3)
- Japan 9.0 mega-quake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 (on Feb. 18, 2011, there was a Supermoon and on March 19, 2011, an extreme Supermoon)
- Hurricane Katrina, August 23, 2005 (Supermoon Aug. 19)
- Haiti 7.0 earthquake January 12, 2010 (On Dec. 31, 2009, there was a Supermoon and on Jan. 30, 2010, there was an extreme Supermoon)
It is also said that full moons have an effect on people and animals. It is said that a full moon brings out the crazy in people. Again, it may be coincidence, but on November 8, 2016, a new President of the United States was elected—just six days before the biggest Supermoon in 68 years.