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Bright Supermoon Over Perth

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
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Enjoy the magical light of the supermoon
September 9 brings this year's last and possibly best supermoon of the year. If you are not familiar with the term, a supermoon is when the moon is both full and also closest to the earth. The result is an amazingly bright moon.

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


Facts about the supermoon

Want to impress your friends? Don't use the term supermoon, instead refer to it as astronomers do, as a perigee full moon. A perigee is when the a body in orbit is closest. Of course, supermoon sounds cooler so most of use that term instead.

You might be imagining that when you go out to view the supermoon you will see a huge moon hanging large in the sky. While the moon will be objectively larger the problem is that to the eye it may not appear any different. This is because the size the moon appears to us is an optical illusion with the moon normally appearing larger on the horizon than when it is high in the sky.

However, what you will notice is the brightness of the moon. If you go away from city lights you will have a chance to truly enjoy the supermoon's moonlight.

Moonrise, meridian and moonset times on September 9

The moon will rise at 6:27 pm, about 22 minutes after the sunset. This means that it will be rising in full dark, providing great moon watching. It will reach its highest at 12:43 am and set at 6:52 am, about half and hour after the sun rises.

Remember that normally there are few days of bright moons before and after the full supermoon. This means that if it is raining or cloudy on the 9th you may still have a chance to enjoy the supermoon on other days as well.

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


Recommended supermoon activities

During the supermoon most people head off to watch the moon rise. The preference is usually to watch it rise over the water and the Swan River provides plenty of vantage points to see the moonrise.

Early morning risers will have a great opportunity to see the moon approaching the horizon as the sky lightens. In my view this is better than the moon in a fully dark sky.

A supermoon is a great opportunity to try some moon photography. The most popular shot is the moon rising up behind the city skyline. To do this successfully you need to know exactly where the moon is going to rise. This supermoon will be rise at 91 degrees, or nearly due east, and drift north in the sky.

To successfully take photos of the moon you will need a camera that allows you to make manual adjustments of both the aperture and the exposure length. A tripod is also essential equipment. One trick to stop the camera shaking when you press the button is to use the camera's timer.

Photographing the supermoon (Attribution: Flickr - trophygeek)
Photographing the supermoon (Attribution: Flickr - trophygeek)


Personally during supermoons I love moonlight hiking, or even just walking in the park under the moonlight. It is amazing how bright the moon can be and if you can find a location without overhanging trees you can hike without flashlights. Remember though to prepare properly for a night hike, as clouds can easily cover the moon and shadows under trees are inky black.

Of course the supermoon is a very romantic time as moonlight is famously romantic and the supermoon of course provides the best moonlight of the year. So it is a great time for a romantic dinner in a restaurant overlooking a lake or river.
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Why? Enjoy the magical moonlight
When: 6:22 pm - 6:52 am
Cost: Free
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