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What is a supermoon, when can I see the largest moon in 69 years?


The most spectacular supermoon since 1948 will light up the sky tonight, appearing 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than usual.


The event today, Monday November 14th - described as "undeniably beautiful" by American space agency Nasa - is the result of the moon coming closer to Earth than it has done for 69 years.


Nothing will match it until the moon makes a similar approach on November 25th 2034.


At 11.23am UK time on Monday, the gap between the Earth and the moon will close to its shortest point, known as "perigee" - a distance of 221,525 miles (356,510 km).


Sky watchers in the UK will have to wait a little longer before the full moon emerges in all its glory shortly before 5pm.


On top of the moon's bigger than usual size, they will then be treated to an additional "low-hanging moon" effect.

This is an optical illusion caused by the moon being close to the horizon, where it can be measured against familiar objects such as trees and houses.


What is a supermoon?

Ever looked up at the night sky to see a full moon so close you could almost touch it? Well done, you've spotted a supermoon.


The impressive sight happens when a full moon is closest to Earth. It orbits our planet in an oval shape so sometimes it comes closer to us than at other times. To us Earth-lings, the moon appears 30 per cent brighter and 14 per cent bigger.


By the way, supermoon is not an astrological term. It's scientific name is perigee-syzygy, but supermoon is more catchy, and is used by the media to describe our celestial neighbour when it gets up close.


Astrologer Richard Nolle first came up with the term and he defined it as "… a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90 per cent of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit", according to earthsky.org.


How can I see it?

The best time to view it in the UK will be when the sun is setting in the late afternoon. The closer to the horizon it is, the bigger it will appear.


Pick a place with the least light pollution. Paul Thomsett, chairman of the South East Kent Astronomical Society said: "As long as the skies are clear and you have a good view to the south you will have no trouble seeing our nearest celestial neighbour blazing in the night sky."

"Weather permitting [it] will be visible without the need for a telescope."


What if it's cloudy where I live?

Having said all that, seeing the supermoon might be difficult as the Met Office is forecasting cloudy conditions on Monday 14th November. But if you miss it, don't worry. The moon will only be a fraction smaller on Tuesday, November 15.

What do I look for?

Robin Scagell, vice-president of the Society for Popular Astronomy, said: "It will be above rooftops and trees and chimneys and always appears bigger that way because you're comparing it to foreground objects.

"I'm always pleased for people to get their binoculars out and look up at the craters and the seas."

As well as being closer and brighter, the moon will look orange and red when it first rises. As the moon gets higher in the sky, it returns to its normal white/yellow colour.

How close does the moon actually get?

It might look close, but of course it's not that close. November 14's full moon will be the closest for 70 years. The moon will come 221,524 miles from Earth - almost touching distance in space terms.

The closest full moon of the whole of the 21st century will fall on December 6, 2052.

Will the tides be larger?

Possibly, yes. Most people know that tides are governed by the gravitational pull of the moon and, to a lesser extent, the sun. Because the sun and moon go through different alignments, this affects the size of the tides.

When the moon is closer to Earth, it can lead to slightly higher tides, and greater variations between the tides.

High Tide on Monday 14th November is at 10:18am and is 9.40m

High Tide on Tuesday 15th November is at 11:02am and is 9.50m

High Tide on Wednesday 16th November is 11:47am and is 9.50m

Story taken from the Telegraph

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