Supermoon Tonight, Monday, November 14, 2016

Please share your Moon photographs on our Facebook Page. Happy Moon Gazing!

The Supermoon occurs on Monday, November 14, peaking around 9 PM our time (8:52 EST). It will appear on our horizon just before 5 PM on Monday. Do not expect it to look dramatically different than any other full Moon. It will look big and bright like any full Moon near to the horizon. Monday’s Supermoon will be 14% larger and may appear 30% brighter. Yet you may not know it had you not been told to look for the “Supermoon.” Astronomers traditionally call this kind of moon a Perigee Moon. Term “Supermoon” comes to us from “astrology.” Since it was coined in astrology it has made its way into popular culture. Supermoon seems to be catchier than Perigee Moon. It occurs because the path of the Moon around the Earth is not a perfect circle but instead somewhat egg-shaped (elliptical). We say the Moon is 240,000 miles away but it varies. The actual distance varies over the course of the orbit of the Moon, from 356,500 km (221,500 mi) at the perigee to 406,700 km (252,700 mi) at apogee, resulting in a differential range of 50,200 km (31,200 mi). Interestingly the Moon is spiraling away from the earth at a rate of about 1.5 inches per year as detected by the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment which utilizes LASERS and mirrors left on the Moon by the Apollo missions. The Moon is said to be at perigee when it is at its nearest and at apogee when it is at its farthest. This particular “perigee” occurring on Monday is the closest perigee since January 26, 1948(~69 years). A technique offered to school children to show them the optical illusion of the Moon appearing “bigger” when it is near to the horizon involves looking at the Moon upside down. Look at the Moon and see how it looks “huge” when it is near to the horizon. If limber enough, bend over and look at the Moon upside down. Amazingly the optical illusion will be gone. Likewise a photograph of the Moon near to the horizon show it to be the same size as when overhead. That near horizon largeness truly is an optical illusion. Optical illusions aside the Moon should be big and bright on Monday -“Moonday,” and Pittsburgh weather cooperating we can all enjoy the view. Binoculars will greatly enhance the view of the Moon!

Also Monday is the peak of the Taurid Meteor shower. It will be diminished in viewing pleasure by the brightness of the Moon washing out all but the brightest meteors. The Taurids are debris from Comet Encke in the path of the Earth. As the Earth smacks into this debris trail the gravel sized fragments heat by friction and burn up in the atmosphere . Fortunately the Taurids are known for fireballs or especially bright meteors. So you may be treated to a fireball sighting!

Please share your Moon photographs on our Facebook Page. Happy Moon Gazing!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *