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Adelaide August Supermoon 2015

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
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By the light of the supermoon
August 30 is the first full supermoon of the year. A supermoon, for those who haven't heard the term before, is when the moon is closest to the Earth and full. This is the perfect time to enjoy the moonlight.

A supermoon (Attribution: Flickr - Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel)
A supermoon (Attribution: Flickr - Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel)

Some Supermoon facts

There can be some disagreement about what exactly a supermoon is, because astronomers don't use that term. Rather they prefer to say perigee full moon. Now a perigee, for those of you who don't know, is a point in the moon's orbit where it comes closest to the Earth. You know what, I am going to stick to using the term supermoon because it is a much cooler word.

While the supermoon is in fact larger in the sky than a normal moon, the problem is that the size the moon appears to us is actually an optical illusion. You may have noticed how the moon appears larger near the horizon than when it is high in the sky.

However supermoons don't disappoint, because the moon is actually much brighter than normal. If you escape the city lights, this is very noticeable.

A supermoon peaking through the clouds (Attribution: Flickr - Jim H.)
A supermoon peaking through the clouds (Attribution: Flickr - Jim H.)

August 30 moonrise, meridian and moonset times

On August 30 the moon will rise in Adelaide at 6:34 pm. This will be about 40 minutes after sunset, which means that the moonrise will occur in full darkness. The moon will be at its highest at 4 minutes past midnight, and set at 7:19 am, about 40 minutes after sunrise.

Early morning risers will have the chance to see the moon approach the horizon in partial light. This can often make for better photos.

One thing to remember is that the moon will be bright for several days around the full moon. So while August 30 is a Sunday night, you could go out and enjoy the moon on August 29. It also means that if there is cloud or rain on August 30, you might be luckier on the days just before or after the full moon.

Popular Supermoon activities

The most popular activity for the supermoon is to watch it rise. The ideal spots include watching the moon rise over water or the city. Adelaide is orientated the wrong way for sea views of the moonrise, but early rises should have more luck if they head out to Glenelg. Of course you could head out to Victor Harbour with its easterly views over the sea.

For a cityscape moonrise you need to know exactly where the moon is going to rise. On August 30 it will be able 5 degrees south of true east. If you have a favourite moonrise watching location please add it to the comments.

For myself personally, I love moonlight hiking during the supermoon. The ideal location is somewhere with little or no artificial lighting and most importantly, no overhanging trees. The moonlight can easily be bright enough to hike or walk by, but moonlight shadows are very dark.If you don't have the time or inclination to get out of the city, even a park can be a great place to walk.

The banks of the River Torrens, especially near the North Adelaide Golf Course can provide a great location for walking under the moonlight and seeing the moon rise over the water.

Attribution: Flickr - John Goodridge
Attribution: Flickr - John Goodridge

If you have invested in a new fancy camera where you can adjust both timing and aperture, you probably want to grab a tripod and have a go at moon photography.
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