Lonely Planet Writer

See a first glimpse of the super moon of the century as it lights up skies around the world

The super moon of the century is set to shine around the world tonight, lighting up skies and thrilling stargazers.

A supermoon rises over Washington, DC November 13, 2016. The supermoon will venture to its closest point in 68 years, leaving only 221,524 miles (356,508 km) between Earth and the moon
A super moon rises over Washington, DC November 13, 2016. The super moon will venture to its closest point in 68 years, leaving only 221,524 miles (356,508 km) between Earth and the moon Image by EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images

The last super moon of this magnitude was back in 1948 – meaning that for much of the world, this will be the largest moon they’ve ever seen.

The moon rises behind the España building in Madrid, on November 13, 2016, on the eve of a 'supermoon'. On November 14, 2016, the moon will orbit closer to the earth than at any time since 1948, named a 'supermoon', it is defined by a Full or New moon coinciding with the moon's closest approach to the Earth.
The moon rises behind the España building in Madrid, on November 13. Image by GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images

In fact, it will be some time until a moon like this can be seen again, as the next time the moon’s orbit will bring it so close to the earth will be on 25 November, 2034.

A super moon rises over the Statue of Freedom on the Capitol dome in Washington, DC November 13, 2016. The supermoon will venture to its closest point in 68 years, leaving only 221,524 miles (356,508 km) between Earth and the moon.
The moon rises over the Statue of Freedom on the Capitol dome in Washington, DC. Image by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images

The moon has an elliptical orbit, and one point in the orbit – the perigee – brings the moon 50,000 kilometres closer to the Earth that the apogee, when it is further away. The super moon, also known as a perigee full moon, appears significantly bigger and brighter than usual.

The Super Moon as seen in the sky over Berlin, November 13, 2016.
The moon as seen in the sky over Berlin, November 13, 2016. Image by Omer Messinger/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The effect is heightened by syzygy, which is the term for when the Earth, sun, and moon line up as the moon orbits Earth.

The moon rises behind a sculpture of Don Quixote De La Mancha a day before the supermoon on November 13, 2016 in Munera, near Albacete, Spain. On November 14, 2016 the supermoon will be at its closest distance to the earth since 1948.
The moon rises behind a sculpture of Don Quixote De La Mancha a day before the super moon on November 13, 2016 in Munera, near Albacete, Spain. Image by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

According to Nasa: “when perigee-syzygy of the Earth-moon-sun system occurs and the moon is on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun, we get a perigee moon or more commonly, a super moon”.

The moon rises behind the Opera House on November 14, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. A super moon occurs when a full moon passes closes to earth than usual, with the November 14th moon expected to be closer than it has been in over 70 years.
The moon rises behind the Opera House on November 14, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. Image by James D. Morgan/Getty Images

And while tonight’s super moon is set to be the best of this century, there is another opportunity to catch an incredible super moon on 14 December.