Nothing inspires Halloween spirit quite like the sight of a radiant moon in the evening sky, and on the night of October 16, the universe has deemed fit to serve up an especially brilliant show.
Not only will the Moon be full on Sunday evening, it will also reach perigee, or its tightest approach to Earth, at 7:36 PM Eastern time. At this point, our satellite will be about 30,000 miles nearer to our planet than at its farthest point (called an apogee). These orbital close passes are called "supermoons," because they make our satellite appear as much as 30 percent brighter than normal full moons and 14 percent larger over the horizon.
As if this wasn't already enough of an excuse to indulge in some appropriately autumnal Moon-watching, Sunday's supermoon coincides with yet another special lunar event called the Hunter's Moon.
This name derives from a Native American tradition of naming each lunar cycle in relation to its seasonal significance. The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the fall equinox, for instance, while the Hunter's Moon is the full moon that follows the Harvest Moon. Its name derives from the short span of time between sunset and moonrise in October's skies, which is said to have conveniently extended the amount of time that hunters were able to pursue their prey by moonlight.
What does this mean for those few of us who don't intend to shed blood by the glare of the supermoon? Pretty much that we'll all get ample opportunity to marvel at this confluence of lunar events because the Moon will rise relatively early, at around 6:58 PM Eastern time, and will stay up for over 12 hours, finally setting at 8:14 AM Monday.
Provided the weather is good in your area, this Super-Hunter's-Moon should be a gorgeous silver spectacle in the skies. Even if it's stormy, watching the Moon shine through gaps in cloud cover is Halloweeny AF.
But if, for some reason, you miss out on Sunday's mashup of lunar events, fret not. An even more extraordinary supermoon is set to premiere on Monday, November 14. Called the "Beaver Moon," this full phase will coincide even more closely with the Moon's perigee, making it an "extra-supermoon," according to this NASA video.
"The Full Moon of November 14 is not only the closest full moon of 2016, but also the closest full moon to date in the 21st century," the narrator notes. "The full moon won't come this close to Earth again until November 25, 2034."
As if that weren't enough, another supermoon will rise in the skies on December 14 (the so-called "Cold Moon"). So while 2016 has gained a reputation for being an unapologetic barf-a-thon of bad news, at least it is closing out with some spectacular lunar magic.
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