Supermoon 70 Years in the Making
The Supermoon, which will appear bigger and brighter than any in 70 years, gives competition to Taurid and Leonid meteor showers.
November’s huger-and-brighter-than-usual Supermoon on Monday, 14 November is the star of the sky show in November, it will appear closer to the Earth than any Moon in nearly 70 years, and we will not see the likes of it for another 8 years, but if meteor shower lovers are lucky and the Big Moon does not outshine them, they may see some fireballs streaking across the sky, too.
The twin Taurids meteor showers, the South Taurids and the North Taurids, continue through 2 December Both are long-lasting but sleepy, only offering about 7 meteors an hour, but they are known for having the highest percentage of fireballs.
The North Taurids peak Friday and Saturday, 11-12 November The best chance to see one of the fireballs is around Midnight. They are slow-moving, but very bright, according to Earthsky.org. Unfortunately, the waxing gibbous Moon could outshine this year’s shower.
The waning big Supermoon could dull the Leonids meteor shower, which peaks on 16-17 November. This shower, which has produced some of the greatest meteor storms in history, is capable of producing thousands of meteors during a 15-minute span, as happened on 17 November 1966.
But there’s some good news about this mid-November celestial event.
Meteors will continue to graze the sky until 21 November, and the waning Moon will be at its 3rd quarter, which means only half of the Moon’s face will interfere with meteor watching, according to space.com.
Where Should I Look?
The Leonids, which are associated with the comet Tempel-Tuttle, get their name from the constellation Leo and seem to radiate from that part of the sky, but it’s not necessary to look in any particular direction to see them.
About the Super-Supermoon
Skywatchers may have to be content this month to gaze at the 14 November Supermoon.
Supermoons are not particularly rare. October’s full moon was a Supermoon, and December’s will be, too. But November’s will be the biggest Supermoon since Y 1948, according to an astronomer at the Slooh Community Observatory. And NASA says the moon will not be this big again until Y 2034.
What is a supermoon?
The moon’s orbit around Earth isn’t a perfect circle. It’s more oval or egg-shaped, meaning the moon is continuously getting closer or farther away from us.
The moon’s closest point to Earth is called “perigee,” which is about 30,000 miles closer than the opposite, “apogee.” When perigee lines up with the cycle of a full moon, it’s known as a Supermoon.
Supermoons can appear to be about 14% bigger in the sky and 30% brighter.
But the exact moments of a full moon and perigee hardly ever line up simultaneously. So the Supermoons can vary slightly in size.
What makes November’s Supermoon so special?
This month’s moon is going to be even super-er.
According to NASA, the Moon will become “full within about 2 hours of perigee making it an extra-Supermoon.” And the Moon won’t look this big until again until 25 November 2034.
Bonus fact: the November full moon is traditionally known as the “Beaver Moon,” being when hunters would go after the critters as they built their dams.
The Big Q: How can I see it?
The Big A: Look up! No special equipment needed.
You should check your local weather forecast, though, for rain and clouds. Overcast skies can diminish the Moon’s brightness significantly.
Have a terrific week.