Nov 14 supermoon will be a rare visual treat

The "supermoon" rises over the Power and Light building in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, on Nov 13, 2016.
The "supermoon" rises over the Power and Light building in downtown Kansas City, Missouri, on Nov 13, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Moon can appear 13% bigger as it will be closest to Earth since 1948

Supermoons may not be that uncommon but the next one on Nov 14 is extra special.

The next full moon will be the closest to Earth since 1948, and this means it will look bigger than it ever did in the past 70 years.

The next time the Moon appears this size will not be until Nov 25, 2034.

While there was a supermoon on Oct 16, and there will be another one on Dec 14, the one this month will be the most impressive.

Even America's space agency Nasa highlighted its uniqueness.

It can appear about 13 per cent bigger and about 30 per cent brighter.

"The full moon of Nov 14 is not only the closest full moon of 2016, but also the closest full moon to date in the 21st century," it said.

 

The term "supermoon" was coined by American astrologer Richard Nolle as a full moon occurring when the Moon is within 90 per cent of its closest distance to Earth, which is about 356,500km.

In Singapore, the Moon will rise in the east at 6.46pm on Nov 14 and become a full moon at 9.52pm. It will be nearest to Earth about two hours before that.

It will set in the west at 7.18am the following day.

The viewing difference between a supermoon and a regular full moon also depends largely on where you are looking at it from.

If the Moon is situated high above the horizon from your perspective and you have no buildings to compare it with, it may not appear larger than usual.

On the other hand, the Moon can look unnaturally large and closer to the horizon when viewed through trees, buildings or other foreground objects.

While this is an optical illusion, Nasa states that it does not take away from the experience.

However, the chances of seeing the supermoon are up in the air, as Singapore is now in the midst of a rainy inter-monsoon.

But if it shows up, chances are that Earth's very own natural satellite and closest celestial neighbour will capture many people's hearts and minds.

UNIQUE PHENOMENON
The full moon of Nov 14 is not only the closest full moon of 2016, but also the closest full moon to date in the 21st century.

AMERICA'S SPACE AGENCY NASA

"Basically, just a visual treat," said Mr Albert Ho, president of The Astronomical Society of Singapore.

It will, however, be no match for the rare supermoon lunar eclipse on Sept 28 last year.

That eclipse was a triple coincidence that included the Moon falling into the Earth's shadow in the Sun.

This kind of eclipse will next happen on Oct 8, 2033, but it would be only partially visible in Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2016, with the headline 'Nov 14 supermoon will be a rare visual treat'. Print Edition | Subscribe