3 Supermoons – 2016 Grand Finalé
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Nothing beats a bright and beautiful “supermoon.” Except maybe, three supermoons! 2016 ends with a trio of full moons at their closest points to Earth. Full supermoons on October 16, November 14 and December 14.
A supermoon, or perigee full moon can be as much as 14% bigger and 30% brighter than an apogee full moon.
Since the moon’s orbit is elliptical, one side (perigee) is about 30,000 miles (50,000 km) closer to Earth than the other (apogee). The word syzygy, in addition to being useful in word games, is the scientific name for when the Earth, sun, and moon line up as the moon orbits Earth. When perigee-syzygy of the Earth-moon-sun system occurs and the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun, we get a perigee moon or more commonly, a supermoon!
This coincidence happens three times in 2016. On October 16 and December 14, the moon becomes full on the same day as perigee. On November 14, it becomes full within about two hours of perigee—arguably making it an extra-super moon – the biggest moon in nearly 70 years.
The full moon of November 14 is not only the closest full moon of 2016 but also the closest full moon to date in the 21st century. The full moon won’t come this close to Earth again until November 25, 2034.