On November 14th, the moon appeared at its biggest and brightest by coming as close to the earth that it has been in almost 70 years — since 1948, to be exact. Pictured above in Chicago Sunday evening, this week’s supermoon is about seven percent bigger and 15 percent brighter than a regular moon. If you missed it Sunday night or Monday morning — when it peaked at 6:22 a.m. on the east coast — you’ll still have a chance Monday evening. But after that it’ll be another 18 years until the moon comes this close again, on November 25th, 2034.
But what is a supermoon, exactly? The New York Times explains:
“The supermoon is a made-up term,” said James Lattis, an astronomer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “It’s not an astronomical term, there’s no technical definition of it.”
Supermoon was actually coined by an astrologer in the 1970s, not by a scientist. The term has come to loosely mean a full moon that is at perigee, or when the moon is at its closest position to Earth along its orbit.
The definition of a supermoon is apparently pretty loose, and they can occur multiple times per year; the next being December 14th. This one, of course, is special because of the rarity of the occurrence, and as the world got a taste of nature’s brilliant display on Sunday night and Monday morning, photographers across the globe began sharing photos on social media. Here’s just a handful of the thousands of supermoon photos on Twitter: