How to Watch Next Monday's Huge Supermoon

Tuesday, 08 November 2016 - 2:06PM
Solar System
Tuesday, 08 November 2016 - 2:06PM
How to Watch Next Monday's Huge Supermoon
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Get hyped, astronomy and werewolf enthusiasts—the biggest supermoon since 1948 is coming next Monday, November 14th! It's the perfect time to grab the telescope and check out the Moon's surface, plan a romantic dinner with a special someone, set up a rooftop party, or just look at the sky and think about all the different ways the Moon could kill you.

What is a supermoon? Well, the short answer is that it's a full moon that coincides with the small window of time when the Moon is closest to Earth. The Moon has an elliptical orbit, which means that it can appear large or smaller depending on the time of the year. The long answer is that a supermoon is part of a phenomenon called perigee-syzygy, where the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned, with the Earth between the Moon and Sun at the same time that the Moon is at its closest point in its orbit to Earth.

The result is that the moon appears significantly brighter and larger than normal—but that can depend on where and when you view it. Here's everything you need to know:

Who can see the supermoon?

If you're in Europe, the US, or Australia, you should be able to see the supermoon with no trouble! Folks on the other side of the world are out of luck this time.

When should I see the supermoon?

For US viewers, November 14th (Monday) at 8:52 AM EST (13:52 GMT) will be when the Moon appears at its fullest. For Australian viewers, November 15th and 12:52 AM AEST is the ideal time.

Why are some people calling this a "beaver moon"?

According to the Farmer's Almanac, the November full moon was when Native Americans and colonists set out the last traps for beavers before the lakes and rivers froze over—beaver furs are very warm, and would help them get through the cold winter. A 'supermoon' is a general term, while a 'beaver moon' is specific to the November full moon.

What are some tips to see the supermoon?

The rules for seeing a supermoon are a lot less strict than the ones for watching a solar eclipse—there are no pinholes in cardboard boxes, no dire warnings about going blind, and the window of time to watch the event is a big longer. Here are some basic tips:

  • Reduce light pollution—if you're surrounded by streetlights, cars, or house lights, it may outshine the brightness of the supermoon

  • Get higher up—a higher vantage point will make sure you see the most of the sky and keep things like trees from blocking your angle on the moon

  • Keep your eyes off your phone—your eyes need to adjust to the dark in order to see clearly, and looking at the bright screen of your phone can interfere with your ability to see the moon's light

  • A beach that faces east—this will make sure that you get an unobstructed view of the moon, and allow you to track its progress through the sky

  • If you're in a city, try to see the moon from a rooftop, so that you can compare it to the size of the buildings—it will create an optical illusion called 'the moon illusion' that will make the supermoon seem every larger!

  • Bring a pair of binoculars or a telescope—check out those craters and make sure you're soaking in the full effect!

So bundle up and head outside next Monday—truly, a moon-tastic time will be had by all (Thanks to Science Alert, Lifehacker, and EarthSky for the tips!). If you want to prepare for 2017's supermoons, you can use this handy website to check out the next one.

You can also tune into Slooh's livestream below on November 13th and watch the supermoon from the comfort of your couch:

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