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New York Supermoon 2014

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
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When you are caught between the moon and New York City
New York has often managed to associated with the moon in songs and movies (think Arthur and Moonstruck), and September 8 is going to be the the time to see for yourself whether it is true or not when the brightest supermoon of 2014 rises over the city.

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

What you need to know about supermoons

The correct term used by astronomers for a supermoon is a perigee full moon. Of course most people don't know what a perigee is (the point in an orbit when a body approaches closest to the body it is in orbit around). So like the rest of us, you can use the term supermoon instead.

During the supermoon the moon is objectively larger. Up to 14% larger. Many people though are disappointed because when they go out to view the moon it doesn't look any bigger to their eyes. The reason for this is because the size the moon appears to us is an optical illusion. You may have noticed that the moon appears larger on the horizon than it does high the sky even though the actual size of the moon doesn't change.

What you will notice is the increased brightness of the moon. Supermoons can be 30% brighter than a regular moon. The best way to appreciate the magical moonlight is to go as far away as possible from city lights.

Moonrise, meridian and moonset times on September 8

The moon rises at 6:55 pm on September 9, 20 minutes before sunset. While some people might find this disappointing I think the best views of the moonrise come from seeing the moon in the still partially lit skies, and it produces the best photographs.

The moon will reach its zenith at midnight and set at 7:06 am, just over half an hour after sunrise. Early rises should be able to see the setting moon in the brightening sky.

You usually have a few days of bright moons around the time of the full supermoon, so if it is cloudy, you can enjoy the supermoon on another night.

What to do during the supermoon

The most popular supermoon activity is to watch the moonrise, preferably over water. This supermoon will rise at 95 degrees, or just a little south of true east and drift to the north as it makes its westerly journey across the sky. The other option is to view the moon rising behind the New York cityscape.

Supermoon and buildings (Attribution: Flickr - Fernando Sanchez-Magrane)
Supermoon and buildings (Attribution: Flickr - Fernando Sanchez-Magrane)

Supermoons bring both out budding and experienced photographers alike with the intention of capturing a stunning supermoon photograph. The most popular is the supermoon rising over the city, thought in New York a photograph of the moon and one of the bridges is popular with Manhattan Bridge usually providing the best opportunity for photographs with the moon in the right place.

To successfully photograph the moon you will need a tripod and a camera where you are able to adjust both the exposure and the aperture. To avoid any camera shake when you press the button on your camera you can instead use the timer function.

One of my favourite supermoon activities is moonlight hiking which usually means getting out of the city. The ideal hiking location is where there are few overhanging trees, because even though the moonlight is more than bright enough to hike by, moonlight shadows are still inky black. For those who are unable to escape the city on a week night can still enjoy the moonlight in a park.

The Maelstrom rooftop bar (Attribution: Flickr - Alan Strakey)
The Maelstrom rooftop bar (Attribution: Flickr - Alan Strakey)

Moonlight is of course extremely romantic and the supermoon even more so. New York has a proliferation of roof top bars and restaurants. For a romantic dinner make sure you book a table with an easterly view.
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