The Moon, which is a recurrent and familiar sight in the night sky, is going to appear brighter and bigger on Monday, November 14, 2016. This will be the closest Supermoon in more than 40 years, as the closest full moon to earth occurred in 1948 and there won´t be another similar supermoon until 2034. The term supermoon is not of astronomical origin, but it derives its name from astrology. Although there have been other supermoons on 2016, this will be bigger and brighter due that it will also be closer (Moon´s perigee) to earth.

Moon at perigee

The moon orbits the earth in an elliptical orbit, closer when it is at perigee and farther when it is at apogee.

The moon´s distance to the earth varies each month from 356,000 km (221 miles) at perigee to 496,000 km (252 miles) at apogee. Thus, the moon is closer to earth at perigee and more distant when at apogee. When the moon is closer to earth, it can be 14% larger and 30% brighter compared to when it is at its farthest distance. A supermoon occurs when the moon is full and it orbits at its closest distance from earth.

When to see the supermoon

Given there are clear skies, moon can be observed on Monday, November 14th, but if the weather is not suitable for this event, another option will be to observe it on the next day November 15th, since the difference in distance from earth will be minimum compared to the previous date and the moon will still appear super in the sky.

The most spectacular time to see the supermoon is at sunrise, when the moon is rising in the horizon, as its apparent size can be compared to the earth´s mountains, buildings or other references, creating an optical illusion that will make it appear bigger.

Cause of natural disasters

The moon´s gravitational pull causes the tides on earth´s oceans and the variations in low and high tides is greater when the moon is at perigee to earth.

These variations in the ocean tides are insignificant when the moon is at apogee. Although the sun-moon alignment with earth provokes an increase in tectonic activity, the effects of a supermoon on earth´s geology are minor and scientists have not been able to relate a supermoon with natural disasters, such as tsunamis and earthquakes.