Why November's Super-Close Supermoon Is a Full Beaver Moon

Moon at perigee and apogee
A comparison of the Moon at perigee (its closest to Earth, at left) and at apogee (its farthest from us). The change in distance makes the full Moon look 14% larger at perigee than at apogee. and nearly 30% brighter. (Image credit: Sky and Telescope, Laurent Laveder)

November's supermoon — the name given to a full moon that occurs when the satellite is at its closest point to Earth during the lunar orbit — will be the biggest supermoon in about 70 years

Algonquin Native American tribes as well as American colonists called the November full moon the Beaver Moon because "this was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs," according to the Old Farmer's Almanac

The Slooh Community Observatory will offer a live broadcast for November's full moon on Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT on Nov. 14). You can also watch the supermoon live on Space.com, courtesy of Slooh. [Supermoon November 2016: When, Where & How to See It]

An alternative name for November's full moon is the Frost Moon, which was also coined by Native Americans, according to the Almanac. 

November's supermoon will be the largest since 1948, and the full moon will not come this close to Earth again until Nov. 25, 2034, according to NASA. This month is the second in a series of three consecutive supermoons happening late in 2016, with the first taking place in October, and the last in December.

Supermoons can appear 30 percent brighter and up to 14 percent larger than typical full moons. Learn what makes a big full moon a true 'supermoon' in this Space.com infographic. (Image credit: Karl Tate/SPACE.com)

Full moons occur when the moon is on the side of the Earth opposite to the sun, and the three celestial bodies all line up. (Sometimes they perfectly line up, causing a lunar eclipse.) The moon's orbit around the Earth is not a perfect circle, so during each orbit, the moon reaches a minimum distance from the planet (this point is called perigee) and a maximum distance (apogee). When the moon is full, and is also at perigee, it's called a supermoon. The supermoon can look 14 percent larger than it does during apogee, and up to 30 percent brighter, NASA officials have said.  

The Slooh Community Observatory is hosting a live broadcast of the November supermoon, starting Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. EST (1200 a.m. GMT Nov. 14). You can watch the live stream here on Space.com, courtesy of Slooh.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace