Monday’s supermoon the biggest in decades

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A plane passes in front of the supermoon - as seen from Hudsonville on Nov. 13, 2016.


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The moon that reached complete fullness Monday morning was not only a “supermoon” — it was also the biggest supermoon to grace our skies in decades.

NASA estimated the full moon was 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than usual, making it the biggest “supermoon” in almost 70 years! That might not seem like that much of a difference, but experts say even a small increase in closeness can have a decent visual effect.

The full moon reached complete fullness at 8:52 a.m. Monday. The bonus for those who viewed the rare celestial event: skies over West Michigan were clear.

A moon is considered a “supermoon” when it passes slightly closer to Earth in its orbit. According to NASA, “full moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon’s orbit. It is an ellipse with one side (perigee) about 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other (apogee).”

This year’s pass was especially close, making the moon appear extra-spectacular. A “closer than usual” pass to the Earth can happen even when the moon isn’t full, but the effect is much more noticeable when it is.

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The next time the moon will be so close, full and bright is in 2034.

The moon is essential for driving things like ocean tides — the supermoon caused king tides along the coasts, according to WNCT, WOOD TV8’s Greenville, S.C. sister station. However, overall, the effects on Earth from a supermoon are minimal.