A spectacular super moon will hang in the night sky to close out the year in a display few people alive have ever seen.
The moon is closer to the earth than at any time in the past 70 years – and the phenomenon will not occur again until 2034.
The key night when the moon is biggest and brightest is November 14.
The super moon is a natural astronomical event that is the result of the elliptical orbit of the moon around the earth.
The nearest point of the orbit is called the perigee. This will be 30,000 miles closer to earth than the farthest point of orbit, the apogee.
Considering the moon is about 240,000 miles from the earth, at the perigee, it is 12.5% closer than normal.
This happens quite regularly, but when the moon, earth and sun align in a specific way, this becomes a perigee-syzygy and is the event that results in the super moon.
The last time this occurred was in 1948.
Don’t worry too much about the seemingly giant size of the moon. The satellite will veer away from earth and continue the normal orbit.
The huge super moon is an optical illusion. As the moon dangles, just over the horizon, the visual effect is the normally small satellite looks massive. That’s due more to the relative size of trees and buildings on the horizon rather than any other reason.
Where to catch the super moon
If you miss the November super moon, do not worry too much – there’s another in December, but the effect is not so massive. Put December 14 in your diary as a reminder.
December is also notable because an annual meteor shower called The Geminids takes place at the same time as the super moon, but viewers from earth will not see the display this year as the moon will be too bright and will blot out the fireworks.
If you are staring at an overhead moon, the chances are the super moon will not look that spectacular.
The best places to watch the super moon are on a beach, in a city with skyscrapers or looking towards some mountains. If you live near iconic buildings, such as The Shard, the Pyramids of the Taj Mahal, then take a camera for a once in a lifetime photo opportunity.
A black sky location is also recommended.