WASHINGTON — If you step outside on Nov. 14, you might notice the moon is looking bigger and brighter than usual.
Bigger in fact, than it has appeared at any point in the last 68 years, say scientists.
This month’s supermoon, the penultimate of the year, will be the biggest so far of the 21st century.
A “supermoon” occurs when the moon becomes full on the same days as its perigee, which is the point in the moon’s orbit when it is closest to Earth.
The term is borrowed from the pseudoscience of astrology but has been adopted by popular culture and astronomers.
Supermoons generally appear to be 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than other full moons.
While such moons occur around every 13 months, November’s is a special one.
According to NASA, this month’s supermoon “becomes full within about two hours of perigee—arguably making it an extra-super moon.”
In America, the November full moon is known as a “Beaver Moon,” because it arrives at the time of year when fur trappers would hunt the dam-building animals.
When and where to see?
According to EarthSky.org, the moon will turn precisely full on Nov. 14 at 6:52 a.m. MST.
For viewers in eastern North America and Europe, the best view will likely be on the night of Nov. 13, or the next night.
Early risers on the U.S. West Coast should be able to spot it near its fullest at 5:52 a.m. PST, as the sun does not rise in that region until 6:25 a.m.
Moon spotters in Asia are perhaps the best placed to catch the moon at its absolute largest, with full moon occurring at 9:52 p.m. Hong Kong time, or 7:22 p.m. in India.
While the moon will likely be visible throughout the day (depending on cloud coverage), supermoons are best viewed at night, away from sources of light pollution.
Moon overshadows meteor shower
A month after the mega-supermoon, another supermoon will rise on Dec. 14.
It too will be a sight to behold, but it’ll also limit our opportunity to see something just as beautiful — a Geminid meteor shower.
The Geminid meteor shower, an annual event, got its name because the meteors look like they’re coming from the constellation of Gemini.
But the supermoon’s brighter light will drastically reduce the number of meteors you’ll be able to see.
NASA says we’ll be lucky if we see a dozen meteors in an hour at the shower’s peak, when normally the shower lights up the night sky with more than 100 meteors per hour.AlertMe