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Will we be able to see the Supermoon?

RICHMOND, Va. — The second of this year’s three supermoons will occur Sunday night into Monday.  With the moon closer to the earth than normal, it will appear bigger and brighter in the sky.

supermoon-sizes

The moon’s orbit is elliptical.  It’s closest point to earth is called perigee, and is about 30,000 miles closer to Earth than when it’s at its farthest point, the apogee. When the Earth, sun, and moon line up as the moon orbits Earth, and the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun, we get a perigee moon — which is also known as a supermoon.  According to NASA, the moon will be 221,525 miles from Earth.  The average distance is normally 238,855 miles.

supermoon-perigee

There are three supermoons this year:  October 16, November 14 and December 14.  However, Sunday into Monday will mark the closest a full moon has been to the Earth since January 26, 1948.   The next time this will occur will be November 25, 2034.

While the moon actually turns full at 8:52 a.m. on Monday, you may be able to notice the change in appearance before then.  The moon will reach its closest point (perigee)  just after 6 a.m.  During supermoons, the moon appears up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter, but to the casual observer, the difference may not be noticeable.

supermoon-brightness

The November full moon is also called the Full Beaver Moon.  Hundred of years ago, the full moon of November signified when to set beaver traps.

Skies will remain clear enough Sunday evening to see the moon.  However, clouds will increase during Sunday night into daybreak Monday, which may limit viewing ability.

Diagrams and data provided by NASA