November Supermoon Will Be Biggest, Brightest Moon In Nearly 70 Years

  • Photo by Mike Zarnek: Supermoon. Taken from Glenview on Sunday 11/13/2016

    Photo by Mike Zarnek: Supermoon. Taken from Glenview on Sunday 11/13/2016

  • Photo by Scott Sykora

    Photo by Scott Sykora

  • Photo by David Wilson: Interesting cloud formation that looks like and Angelfish around the supermoon

    Photo by David Wilson: Interesting cloud formation that looks like and Angelfish around the supermoon

  • Photo by Deborah Chipman: Supermoon over the Chicago lakefront taken from our condo at Millennium Park (captured Monday 11/14/16 on my cell phone)

    Photo by Deborah Chipman: Supermoon over the Chicago lakefront taken from our condo at Millennium Park (captured Monday 11/14/16 on my cell phone)

  • Photo by Gary Acosta: Cicero

    Photo by Gary Acosta: Cicero

  • The supermoon on Nov. 14 will be the closest full moon to Earth since 1948. (Dave Doe / Flickr)

    The supermoon on Nov. 14 will be the closest full moon to Earth since 1948. (Dave Doe / Flickr)

  • Photo by Daniel Christmas: Super Moonrise 252,000 miles from earth at 5:50pm CST Lake Michigan at Chicago's Last Beach, Nov. 14, 2016 (Full Photo)

    Photo by Daniel Christmas: Super Moonrise 252,000 miles from earth at 5:50pm CST Lake Michigan at Chicago's Last Beach, Nov. 14, 2016 (Full Photo)

  • Photo by Debbie Garcy: Taken on Nov. 14 at 11:59 AM, the last minute of the Super Moon. At 12 AM Nov. 15 it became a Waning Gibbous Moon.

    Photo by Debbie Garcy: Taken on Nov. 14 at 11:59 AM, the last minute of the Super Moon. At 12 AM Nov. 15 it became a Waning Gibbous Moon.

  • Photo by Debbie Garcy: Taken at Lake Sedgwick, O.P. IL at 5:23 AM as clouds began to cover the Super Moon.

    Photo by Debbie Garcy: Taken at Lake Sedgwick, O.P. IL at 5:23 AM as clouds began to cover the Super Moon.

  • Photo by Debbie Garcy: Taken over my roof top in Orland park, IL at 12:09 AM on November 14, 2016

    Photo by Debbie Garcy: Taken over my roof top in Orland park, IL at 12:09 AM on November 14, 2016

November’s full moon will be no ordinary sight. From Sunday evening through early morning on Tuesday, stargazers will be treated to a radiant lunar spectacle: a supermoon.

Supermoons occur when the moon is both full and at its closest orbital point to Earth, called perigee. What makes this month’s supermoon extra special is the fact that it will be the closest to Earth since January 1948.

The moon’s average distance from Earth is about 240,000 miles, but Monday’s supermoon will be a mere 227,000 miles away. It may not sound like much, but the relative proximity will result in a moon that could appear as much as 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than a typical full moon, according to NASA.

Larry Ciupik, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium, says those in the area will have three days to experience the lunar event.

The early stages of the supermoon will be visible on Sunday night, when the moon rises in the east at 4:23 p.m. But for those who want to catch what Ciupik calls the moon’s “biggest and brightest moment,” he recommends catching moonset around 5 a.m. Monday.

The moon will remain large and luminous throughout the night and into the early morning hours of Tuesday, Ciupik said.

Of course, cloud cover and city lights could obstruct the view slightly, he added.

“Depending on the weather, look to the western horizon on early Monday morning,” said Ciupik. “The lakefront in the east is also a fantastic place to watch in the evening during moonrise. The higher the moon gets, the more white it gets. When it’s lower and closer to the horizon, the moon will have more color.”

Related: Share your supermoon photos with us!

November’s supermoon is one of three this year. The first took place Oct. 16; the third and final supermoon is Dec. 13.

But this month’s supermoon will stand out as the biggest and brightest in nearly 70 years. The full moon won't be this close to Earth again until Nov. 25, 2034, according to NASA.

Chicago Tonight viewer J. Scott Sykora shared this photo of a harvest supermoon eclipse on Sept. 27, 2015.Chicago Tonight viewer J. Scott Sykora shared this photo of a harvest supermoon eclipse on Sept. 27, 2015.

The word “supermoon” is not an astronomical term, Ciupik pointed out. Coined by astrologist Richard Nolle in 1979, the word is now commonly used to describe a full moon that is closer-than-average to Earth, according to NASA. Astronomers often use the phrase “perigee-syzygy” or “perigee full moon” to describe the event, Ciupik said.

The Farmer’s Almanac offers another name for this month’s full moon.

“November’s full moon was called the Beaver Moon by both the colonists and the Algonquin tribes because this was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs,” the Farmer’s Almanac states. “It was also called the Full Frost Moon by Native Americans.”

Related event

On Friday, the Adler hosts a free telescope viewing event from 6-9 p.m. Doane at Dusk lets the public look through the area’s largest aperture telescope for a peek at the moon and planets. The event is first-come, first-served and weather permitting.

Follow Reuben Unrau on Twitter: @reubenunrau


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