Something cool is happening in the night sky on November 14: an extra-super moon! The moon will be at its biggest and brightest it has ever been in the last 70 years. It's a rare opportunity to take advantage of for the whole family.
It’s a chance to spend some quality bonding time with your kid while gushing (a.k.a. learning) about the wonders of the cosmos. Anticipated and exciting events like these are also the perfect time to introduce stargazing to your child if you haven’t yet.
So what’s a supermoon? A supermoon is when the full moon looks bigger and brighter than average because it’s closer to the Earth, according to NASA. To elaborate in science speak, one side of the moon’s orbit – called the perigee – is 30,000 miles closer to the Earth than the it’s farthest side.
When the sun, moon and Earth line up during the moon’s orbit it’s called a syzygy. Now, when a syzygy happens on the perigee side of the moon facing us and the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun, it causes the moon to appear bigger and brighter.
Supermoons (or perigee moons) have actually happened three times this year. The first was last October, the third in December, but the one happening this Monday is an “extra-super moon,” as NASA calls it.
Our Luna will be 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than average. “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,” says NASA. “The full moon won’t come this close to Earth again until 25 November 2034.”
For the Philippines, the peak of the supermoon will be at around 7:21 p.m., Dario dela Cruz, chief of the Space Sciences and Astronomy Section of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, told Manila Bulletin. So, get your gear ready (read: picnic mat, children’s astronomy books and flashlights).
Take note though, that it may not be easy to tell the difference if you’re gazing through clouds or the competing glare of city lights. To get the most out of the experience, NASA says it's best to see the moon when it's near the horizon. “When the moon is near the horizon, it can look unnaturally large when viewed through trees, buildings, or other foreground objects.”
Check out this shot taken from Manhattan in 2014 that takes advantage of the optical illusion:
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A day early for the supermoon peak, yet still a good opportunity to introduce astronomy, here are two events happening in Metro Manila with a free public telescope viewing. You and the kids get to make friends while looking at the sky!