Supermoon today …..14 November 2016

Tonight at around 18h43 we will see a full Moon rise in the perigee position (passing close to the Earth at 356 509 km’s and being a full Moon can be referred to as a supermoon). The Moon’s path around the Earth is elliptical, with one side of the orbit closer to Earth than the other. The side closest to the Earth is called the perigee and the side farthest from the Earth is known as the apogee. The average orbital distance of the moon from the Earth is 384 500 km’s. However, because of the elliptical shape of the Moon’s orbit, the actual distance varies throughout the year, between 363,396 km at the perigee and 405,504 km at the apogee. Supermoons occur on an average every 14 months.

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What will make this event special is that this will be the closest the moon has been to the Earth in the past 68 years (since 1948). A closer supermoon event is expected in 2034 when the Moon will be 64 km nearer to the earth than Monday nights sighting.

The last supermoon event recorded in East London was a lunar supermoon eclipse on the 28th September 2015 (see earlier post).

The moon is believed to have been formed when  a planetry body (a rock only slightly larger than half the size of the earth – about the size of Mars)) struck the Earth in its early days (4.5 billion years ago). All the debris from this collision coalesced forming the Moon.

The tidal action with good recent rains has already been noticed along our coastline as illustrated by the photos from Chintsa Bay (Lynne Farrenkothen).

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Lynne’s comments – ‘There goes our very full lagoon, thanks to all the rain. Just in time for summer. Clean lagoon. But not too pretty on a low tide. Nature. Amazing’

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About East London Museum Science

Conservation Biologist East London Museum South Africa
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