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Biggest supermoon of 21st century to happen in 2016, moon alignment dates announced

First Posted: Oct 18, 2016 11:04 AM EDT
A Total Lunar Eclipse Spawns Blood Supermoon

A Total Lunar Eclipse Spawns Blood Supermoon(Photo : Matt Cardy / Stringer)

October 16, November 14, and December 14 in 2016 are currently being marked down by planet enthusiasts as important dates to remember. On these days, the universe is promising something outside of an ordinary full moon, this point in time marks the day the moon is closest to the Earth, making these days' full moon a legendary supermoon.

A supermoon is a full moon that is much closer to the earth than usual, making it appear bigger and fuller. Scientifically, that means a new or full moon that occurs with the moon within 90% of its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit.

According to NASA, "Since the moon's orbit is elliptical, one side (perigee) is about 30,000 miles closer to Earth than the other (apogee). The word syzygy, in addition to being useful in word games, is the scientific name for when the Earth, sun, and moon line up as the moon orbits Earth. When perigee-syzygy of the Earth-moon-sun system occurs and the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun, we get a perigee moon or more commonly, a supermoon!"

This alignment occurs 3 times in 2016, October 16, November 14, and December 14. According to RT, November 14's supermoon is expected to be even bigger, creating an "extra-supermoon", and making it the closest full moon of the 21st century. The extra-supermoon phenomenon won't be witnessed again until November 25, 2034.

Besides the supermoon, another more common lunar phenomenon is the low-hanging moon, which can sometimes create a "moon illusion". Sometimes, when the moon is just about to rise, or already about to set, it can look abnormally larger when viewed against a foreground of trees or buildings. Although the occurrence is more common, and less of a scientific phenomenon, people who are not available on the following dates can still enjoy a supermoon-sized moon by waiting for the low-hanging full moon to rise and set. 

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