November 2016 will go down in history as the month of the supermoon. This month, on the 14th and 15th, the moon was the closest that it has been to earth for 70 years. The last time that a moon so close to earth graced our skies was in 1948, and even then the moon did not appear so large as it did this November. And so, in November, millions of supermoon lovers watched the skies, waiting for a glimpse of this giant heavenly body. Some people had their hopes frustrated due to inclement weather, but others got to enjoy a spectacular sight. Supermoon is a topic that has been trending on social media throughout the month, and the appearance of this supermoon has generated some amazing photography.
So just how big was the supermoon?
The supermoon looked 30% brighter, and 14% larger than an average full moon. The supermoon occurred because the moon has an elliptical orbit, like the earth. One side of the moon's orbit, the perigee side, brings it closer to the earth. One side of the earth's orbit around the sun, also brings it closer to the moon. When these two phenomena coincide, we see a huge moon in the sky. For a supermoon to occur, moreover, the earth, moon and sun need to be aligned, and this is called syzygy. So, a supermoon is a result of syzygy and the lunar perigee, it's as simple as that! This is the reason why the technical name for a supermoon is a perigee moon.
When will the next supermoon be?
If you missed the 2016 supermoon due to cloudy weather or simply not knowing about it, then you will need to wait until November 25th 2034 to see a supermoon as big as the 2016 moon. Can't wait that long? Do not despair! Supermoons are actually pretty common - it's just the extra big ones like that which occurred this November that are very rare. The next supermoon will take place on December 14, 2016.
Why did some people think the 2016 November supermoon was on the 14th and some on the 15th?
This is because the supermoon effect will have been felt slightly later in the Southern hemisphere of the globe. In the Northern hemisphere (for example, in Northern Europe), the huge November supermoon was at its largest on the 14th. In Australia and other parts of the Southern hemisphere, however, it was visible at its largest on the night of the 15th.
Does a supermoon bring you luck?
Cool astronomical events like this one are thought to be lucky by many people. So, did you make a wish upon this year's supermoon? A supermoon event is definitely one of the most romantic times of year to propose, for example. Or, you could just use the next supermoon as an opportunity to take an excellent photograph to share on social media.