What Is A 'Supermoon' And When Can I See The Largest Moon In 70 Years?

What Is A 'Supermoon' And When Can I See The Largest Moon In 70 Years?

Ever looked up at the night sky to see a full moon so close you could almost touch it? Well done, you've spotted a supermoon.

The impressive sight happens when a full moon is closest to Earth. It orbits our planet in an oval shape so sometimes it comes closer to us than at other times. To us Earth-lings, the moon appears 30 per cent brighter and 14 per cent bigger.

By the way, supermoon is not an astrological term. Its scientific name is Perigee Full Moon, but supermoon is more catchy, and is used by the media to describe our celestial neighbour when it gets up close.

Astrologer Richard Nolle first came up with the term and he defined it as "… a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90 per cent of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit", according to earthsky.org.

When is the next supermoon?

Monday, November 14. This supermoon will be the biggest and brightest in 70 years, so it will definitely be worth a look.

The "undeniably beautiful" astronomical event will not come again until November 25, 2034, space agency Nasa said.

How can I see it?

The moon will become full at 13:52 GMT on Monday, so the best time to view it in the UK will be when the sun is setting in the late afternoon. The closer to the horizon it is, the bigger it will appear.

Pick a place with the least light pollution. Paul Thomsett, chairman of the South East Kent Astronomical Society said: "As long as the skies are clear and you have a good view to the south you will have no trouble seeing our nearest celestial neighbour blazing in the night sky."

"Weather permitting [it] will be visible without the need for a telescope."

If you miss it, don't worry. The moon will only be a fraction smaller on November 15.

The moon is the Earth's only natural satellite. It's 4.6 billion years old and was formed between 30-50 million years after the solar system was formed.

The moon is smaller than Earth. It's about the same size as Pluto. In fact its surface area is actually less than the surface area of Asia - about 14.6 million square miles, according to space.com.