NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – Saturday night marks the first of three consecutive Supermoons that will round out 2016. The moon is currently near its perigee, which is its closest point to earth. When a full moon occurs near the perigee, the moon is referred to as a Supermoon (although this term has only come around recently).
The moon rises at 7:15pm on October 16 and will set the next morning at 8:34am so you’ll have plenty of time to see it. The best time to view, however, will be near moonrise or moonset. This is because the closer the moon is to the horizon, the larger it will appear due to the refraction of the light as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere. Reds and oranges will also be more prominent at these times as well due to the angle of the light as it passes through the atmosphere.
In addition to the Supermoon, tonight’s moon is also the Hunter’s Moon. This comes from the tradition of the Native Americans naming the full moons. The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, and according to folklore, is named so due to the full moon at that time providing enough light for farmers to have extra time to harvest their crops at the end of the growing season. The Hunter’s Moon is always the full moon following the Harvest Moon.
While the term Supermoon is impressive, it’s important to realize that as the moon rises higher into the sky, it is harder to see the effects of it being closer to the Earth. That’s why it’s better to watch near the moonrise and moonset. At perigee, the full moon can appear up to 30% brighter and up to 14% larger. Oftentimes it is hard to discern that extra 14% from a normal full moon.
If you missed the October Supermoon, don’t fret. You’ll have two more chances to see it as the next two full moons in November and December will occur at the moon’s perigee. In fact, the November Supermoon will be the closest full moon to the Earth so far this century and another full moon won’t come that close until November 2034.