Supermoon — or the brightest moon in almost 69 years — will light up the sky this week and people across the globe can view this spectacular phenomenon. It is a big celestial event, and NASA has even offered some photography tips for those who want to capture the once-in-lifetime sight. So what exactly is the supermoon, how can you watch it and, then, what’s the big deal? We explain:
What is a supermoon?
‘Supermoon’ is not an astrological term. Astronomers prefer to use the term ‘perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system’ to describe this event.
The Moon orbits the Earth in an elliptical orbit and so the distance varies: at some points, it is closer to the Earth and other times far away. The average distance between Earth and Moon is 384,500 km, but varies between 363,396 km and 405,504 km throughout the year. At the time of a supermoon, the full moon comes closest to the Earth.
Supermoons are not such a rare phenomena. According to a Reuters report, which quotes Jim Lattis of University of Wisconsin, one in about every 14 full moons is a supermoon. December 14 will also see a supermoon. The year 2016 has a total of six supermoons in total but the November event will be a ‘once-in-a-generation’ sight for three reasons.
First, this is the closest the Moon has come to the Earth since 1948. According to scientists, this will also be the biggest and the brightest supermoon since January 1948.
There won’t be another such supermoon until 2034, when, more significantly, the Moon will be even closer, at 356,445 km.
When can you see the supermoon in India?
On Monday, November 14, the full moon will be 356,508 km from the Earth. The supermoon will be visible from 4:53 pm IST or 11:23 am GMT. Don’t expect the size to vary much, but it will get brighter over time. According to Associated Press, “Viewers can expect to see a moon about 14 per cent larger in diameter and about 30 per cent brighter.”
What to look out for in this celestial event?
A moon that looks more orange and red when it first rises will be the highlight of this event. It will return to its normal colour as it climbs higher, reports The Telegraph.
I want to take pictures of this Supermoon? How to do that?
NASA has put out some tips on what to keep in mind if you want to take pictures of the Supermoon. According to Bill Ingalls, who is a senior photographer at the space agency, make sure the shot you take of the Moon is in reference to another object, preferably an iconic landmark in your city.
“Don’t make the mistake of photographing the moon by itself with no reference to anything… It can be a local landmark or anything to give your photo a sense of place,” he said. He suggests doing some homework on where you want to shoot this once in a life-time picture.
And what about those who don’t have a fancy DSLR with a tripod and are dependent on their smartphones? Ingalls says, “You’re not going to get a giant moon in your shot, but you can do something more panoramic, including some foreground that’s interesting. Think about being in an urban area where it’s a little bit brighter.”