The Moon hasn’t been this close to Earth in 68 years!

The Moon is getting closer to Earth. On Sunday night into Monday, it will be at its smallest distance since the beginning of this century. Astronomers are encouraging people to observe its giant orange-red disk, and astrologers are predicting impending disasters.

The Moon hasn't been this close to Earth in 68 years!

The Moon’s orbit is an ellipse, not a circle, and the Earth is not exactly in the middle of it. This is what makes the Moon, during its monthly wandering around our planet, once closer and once farther away.

Once a year we have a special full moon, so called super full moon, during which the Moon approaches the Earth at the smallest distance in a given year. This will happen next Sunday night (13/14.11).

It will not be a super moon, but something more, because the Moon will be at the smallest distance from the Earth in almost 69 years, since January 26, 1948. It will be exactly 356.509 kilometers between the center of the Earth and the Moon and 348.401 kilometers between their surfaces. By comparison, the Moon’s average distance from Earth is 382,900 kilometers.

We will have to wait until November 25, 2034 for the next such great approach of the Silver Globe, so this astronomical phenomenon is by no means to be missed. The supermoon is such a fascinating phenomenon because the Moon’s disk is 14 percent larger and 32 percent brighter than usual during a full moon.

A comparison of the size of the Moon’s disk observed from Earth during a super-full (right) and an ordinary full moon (left). The disk is 14 percent larger and 32 percent brighter at super-full than normal at full moon.

The Moon will look particularly interesting just before sunrise, when the Silver Globe is low over the horizon and the sky is slightly illuminated with intense colors.

If you have some time on Monday (14.11) about an hour before sunrise, that is between 5:00 and 5:30 depending on the region, be sure to look low over the western horizon.

This will be the best moment for observing and taking photos, because only 6 hours will separate us from the full moon and the biggest close-up. The Moon will be at perigee (closest to the Earth) at 12:23 p.m. and it will reach full moon, that is it will be aligned with the Earth and the Sun, at 2:52 p.m. Only a 2 hour difference between one phenomenon and the other is an additional advantage of this super full moon.

Our natural satellite low over the horizon is orange-red and larger than it is high in the sky. Its blood color is the result of the passage of sunlight, reflected from the Moon’s surface, through the thick layers of the atmosphere.

A mosaic of images of the rising Moon.

The white light splits and only the red part of the wave reaches our eyes. The thick layer of atmosphere also acts as a lens that deforms the image of the Moon, making it appear larger than it really is and also due to refraction it is lower than we see it in reality.

Optical illusion also plays a significant role, especially when the Moon emerges from behind buildings. Our brain tries to adjust its size by visually magnifying it. The higher the Moon is, the whiter and smaller it is.

This is because the light reflected from it passes through increasingly thin layers of atmosphere. At the same time, by not having its size compare to nearby objects, it visually gets smaller for us.

It is also good to know that in November we say Full Beaver Moon, because during this period beavers stop building dams and prepare for the coming of winter by storing food.

Full Moon. Photo: TwojaPogoda.pl

The supermoon will not have a colossal impact on Earth. It will only have larger than usual tides, but no more than 15 centimeters (2 percent) larger than those observed during ordinary full moons. Scientists reassure us that there is no threat of cataclysmic events because similar phenomena have occurred many times throughout history.

What is certain, however, is that people who often feel a variety of ailments during a full moon may feel worse, so they will have a sleepless night. The last exceptionally large full moon was in March 2011, when it was the largest in 18 years.

Astrologers have a different opinion, who speak about the bad omen and predict a series of disasters in various regions of the world. They recommend caution because volcanoes may become active, strong earthquakes may occur, and animals will behave abnormally.

According to them, the Moon’s closest approach since the end of World War II could mean civil unrest and outbreaks of armed conflict. They point to the United States, Syria, Russia and Italy as those countries most at risk.

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