Supermoons are, well, super. When conditions are right, they dominate the night sky and give us all an opportunity to pretend like we’re world-class photographers.
There was a supermoon just this past weekend. But if you missed that one, don’t worry. You’ll have two more opportunities to see supermoons before year’s end, including the closest full moon we’ve seen so far this century.
But before we get into all of that, let’s review: just what is a supermoon?
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. They generally appear to be 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other full moons.
Full moons occur near perigee approximately every 13 months, so supermoons like this are not that uncommon, according to NASA.
But that doesn’t stop people from geeking out over them. Social media sites are normally abuzz in anticipation of supermoon sightings days before the event is scheduled to peak.
The supermoon on November 14 could be a biggie. It’ll be the closest full moon so far this century. So it will look like the biggest too? That depends, on where you are when you view it and weather conditions. It’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between a supermoon and a regular full moon, as clouds and haze can mask the difference in brightness.
And you really don’t want to miss this one, NASA says, because the full moon won’t come this close to us again until November 25, 2034.
A month after that mega-supermoon, another supermoon will rise on December 14. It too will be a sight to behold, but it’ll also wipe out 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.