November brings the brightest Supermoon in 70 years
The November Supermoon is not only the brightest moon in 2016, it will also be the brightest supermoon since 1948. Then we will have to wait until 2034 until the moon is that bright again. If you haven't heard that term before, a supermoon is when the moon is both full and closest to the Earth. The result is amazingly bright moonlight.
Enjoy the light of the supermoon
Some Supermoon Facts
Because astronomers don't use the term supermoon, there is a little bit of controversy over what exactly a supermoon is Basically to be technical, the most common definition is a perigee full moon. A perigee is when an object, say the moon, is closest in its orbit to the earth. So the moon can be in perigee during any phase, but normally each year we have 3 perigees during the full moon. The moon can also be in perigee when it is a new moon, which some astrologers, not astronomers, also call a supermoon.
During the supermoon, the moon will be objectively larger. But when you look at the moon it might not appear any bigger at all. This is because the size the moon appears is mostly an optical illusion, with the moon appearing larger near the horizon and smaller when it is directly above.
But that is no reason to be disappointed because the true magic of the supermoon is the much brighter moonlight. This is noticeable even in the suburbs, but if you get out into the countryside, the whole landscape will be bathed in bright moonlight.
Observing the moon
The full supermoon will be on November 14, which is a Monday. But the moon will be close to full and bight for several days around that date, so you can still enjoy the moonlight on Saturday and Sunday nights as well.
On November 14 in South East Queensland, the moon will rise at 5:51 pm, 25 minutes before sunset. This can actually be a great opportunity for photographers, because you can take photos of the moon over landscapes such as a city.
The moon will be at its highest point at 11:37 pm. To really enjoy the moonlight you will want to be out in the bush, on a beach or in a park from about 9 pm with the moon above you.
On November 15 the moon will set at 5:19 am, about half an hour after sunrise. Once again, a great opportunity to take photographs of the moon above a partially lit horizon. That is, if you can get up that early.
Moonrise and moonset will be about 15 degrees north of both East and West. Knowing this can help you identify exactly where you expect the moon to pop up.
Enjoying the supermoon
The main ways to enjoy a supermoon are watching the moonrise, photographing the moon, or hiking under the moonlight. Giving that this is the brightest Supermoon in nearly 70 years, I would highly recommend hiking.
When looking for a moonrise watching location, you want a location with views out over water or over a cityscape. South East Queensland has plenty of spots for watching the moonrise.
For a cityscape, the obvious location is Mt Coot-tha. The location of this moonrise will put the moon close to the city centre when seen from Mt Coot-tha. So it will be a great spot for moon watching.
Alternatively Mt Gravatt would be a good spot to watch the moon set in the morning. But you could also look at other spots for the moonset, such as the Kangaroo Point Cliffs.
But if you want to watch the moonrise over water, then you need to head to the coast. The Gold Coast provides great uninterrupted ocean views, but my favourite location is Snapper Rocks which gives the best easterly view on the Gold Coast. The upper level of the Cafe D'bar, on the cliffs above Snapper Rocks. should also give you great views while you enjoy a romantic meal.
Around Brisbane there are spots like Shorncliffe, Wynnum and Woody Point. The only problem is that the view is interrupted by islands off the coast. While not really a big issue, it does mean you don't get a perfect moonrise over the ocean. Which makes me think that Noosa Heads provides both great views and a spot for night hiking.
When it comes to hiking under the moonlight, there are also many locations to go. The main trick is finding a location where there are few overhanging trees. Because while the moon is very bright, the moonlight shadows are still inky black. Remember to take torches with you, because if the cloud moves in, you will need them.
In Brisbane Mt Coot-tha lets you enjoy a moonrise view, while also giving you some locations to hike. The Powerful Owl Trail is one of the best on Mt Coot-tha for walking under moonlight.
Good open hiking locations around South East Queensland are a little hard to find. One that comes to mind is White Rock out at Ipswich. This bushland area has two great spots to enjoy the moonrise, including the eponymous White Rock. Further north, many people hike up one of the Glass House Mountains to watch the moonrise. There is quite a choice of mountains to hike there, with Wild Horse Mountain being one of the easiest, while Mt Ngungun being the most popular.
In the Gold Coast area most of my favourite hiking locations are rainforest. Which of course is not that great for moonlight hiking. But if you are in the Gold Coast area, your best option is likely to be simply a walk on the beach under the moonlight.
Photographing the Moon
The Supermoon is a great opportunity for photographers and this November's moonrise and moonset times are perfect for photographing the moon.
If the sky is light enough you should be able to photograph the moon with even a pocket camera or mobile phone. Once it gets darker you will need a camera that you can control both timing and aperture. You don't need an expensive DLSR or mirrorless camera, but a good lens does help.
Playing with your settings with get different effects