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The biggest and brightest supermoon in decades set

Donald Luttermoser • Oct 30, 2016 at 6:10 PM

The November full moon will occur at 8:52 a.m. on Nov. 14. Also, this full moon will be a “supermoon,” which are full moons that fall within a day of lunar perigee — the point in the moon’s orbit when it is closest to earth.

What’s more, this will be the closest perigee of the moon between 1976 and 2033. This close perigee happens at 6:30 a.m. on the 14th, when the moon will lie 356,509 kilometers, or 221,524 miles, from the earth.

As such, make sure you go out and look at this month’s full moon — it will be the biggest and brightest the moon will be for some time. Note that Native Americans often labeled this month’s full moon as either the Full Beaver Moon or the Full Frosty Moon, due to the fact that beavers are now actively preparing for winter and that the first frost of the winter often happens in November.

The brilliant planet Venus has been hanging low along the western horizon one-half hour after sunset since returning to the evening sky a few months back.

However, during November, Venus begins to climb out of the evening twilight while increasing in brightness. Venus sets two hours after the sun on Nov. 1.

By the end of the month, the time that Venus sets increases to three hours after sunset. During the first three days of November, dimmer Saturn sits to the right of Venus while a thin waxing crescent moon moves southeastward above them over these three days.

Keen-eyed observers might be able spot the red supergiant star Antares below them hugging the southwestern horizon 45 minutes after sunset.

Mercury returns to the evening sky during the third week of November. On Nov. 23, Mercury will be to the upper right of the much dimmer Saturn, however, Saturn will be nearly impossible to spot in the bright evening twilight during this conjunction.

Mars is still speeding eastward along the background stars low in the southwestern sky throughout the month. The red planet continues to dim as it moves from the eastern side of Sagittarius and crosses the constellation of Capricornus.

One thing of interest concerning Mars while it is in the evening sky — it sets at nearly the same time from mid-October through the end of winter.

For those of you with telescopes, both Uranus and Neptune are well positioned in the evening sky during the next few months. Uranus currently resides in the constellation of Pisces lying between Nu and Epsilon Piscium. Neptune is located in Aquarius, lying just below Lambda Aquarii.

Jupiter is the sole planet visible in the morning sky this month. It is positioned just below Gamma Virginis in the constellation of Virgo. Jupiter rises only 2½ hours before sunrise at the beginning of November, but by the end of the month, it rises around 2:30 a.m. A waning crescent moon will be located near Jupiter on the mornings of Nov. 24 and 25.

Daylight Savings Time ends at 2 a.m. Nov. 6. Make sure you remember to move your clocks forward by one hour when you go to bed on the 5th.

The next free public astronomy open house at the ETSU Powell Observatory will occur on Saturday, Nov. 5, from 8-10 p.m. At these open houses, the public can view objects in the sky through telescopes and hear talks by faculty of the Physics and Astronomy Department.

Note that the open houses are cancelled if the sky is cloudy. Further information about these open houses and directions to the observatory can be found on the web at www.etsu.edu/cas/physics/observatory/default.aspx.

This month’s Night Sky was written by Donald G. Luttermoser, chairman of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at ETSU. He can be reached at lutter@mail.etsu.edu. Astronomy-related information for the public, including a link to the ETSU Powell Observatory, can be found at www.etsu.edu/cas/physics by selecting the Public Outreach pull-down menu at the top of this webpage.

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