This supermoon will rise around sunset & set around sunrise
October brings the best supermoon of the year, with the moon rising around sunset and setting at sunrise. If you are not sure what a supermoon is, it is when the moon is both full and also approaches the Earth at its closest during its orbit. The result is a beautiful full and exceptionally bright moon.
There is no agreement about what a supermoon is as astronomers don't use that term. Rather they prefer to call it a perigee full moon. A perigee is not a type of bird, but the point in an orbit when two astronomical bodies are at their closest.
Depending on your definition there will be 3 full supermoons this year with October's being perhaps the best because of the time it will rise and set in Australia. Also, there were new supermoons at the beginning of the year, but not everyone agrees that a perigee new moon is also a supermoon.
Oh and yes, they do cause disasters. As the moon approaches closer to the Earth, the gravitational pull puts stress on the Earth's crust resulting in more earthquakes. But the fact that the moon is full while being close the Earth doesn't make any difference, so there is no need to panic compared with any other time of the year.
But a supermoon did contribute to the sinking of the Titanic, because the high tides caused by the supermoon created more icebergs, and you know how that turned out for the people on the Titanic.
What to expect from a supermoon
The first thing people expect from a supermoon is a giant moon hanging low in the sky. However the size that the moon appears to our eyes is mostly an optical illusion, with the moon appearing larger close the horizon and smaller when it is directly above us.
What you can expect is moonlight that is much brighter than normal. If you escape city lights, even in a local park, you will be able to enjoy the light of the moon. One of my favourite activities is moonlight hiking, which can be done in any area that is open. Something to put on your bucket list.
October 2016 moonrise, meridian and moonset times
The full moon is on October 16, which is a Sunday, but you can enjoy it for several days around that time.
October 16 will have nearly perfect moon watching opportunities around Australia and you should be able to watch the moon set in the morning just as the sun rises on the opposite horizon. In the evening you can watch it rise just around sunset. Exact times for the major cities around Australia are listed below.
In Sydney the moon sets at 6:13 am exactly as the sun is rising. In the evening it rises at 7:13 pm, 8 degrees north of east, and 4 minutes after sunset. It will be at its highest 12 minutes after midnight and set at 6:57 am on Monday Morning.
Melbourne sees the moon set at 6:37 am, 3 minutes after the sunrise, and rise in the evening at 7:42 pm, 9 degrees north of east and 6 minutes after sunset. It will be at its highest at around 12:30 am in the morning and set at 7:18 am on Monday morning.
In Brisbane, thanks to the lack of daylight savings, the moon sets at 5:08 am on Sunday morning just before sunrise, and rises at 6:01 pm in the evening, 5 minutes after sunset. It will rise 7 degrees north of east. It gets to its highest point at exactly Midnight and sets on Monday morning at 5:55 am.
For Adelaide moonset on Sunday morning is at 6:35 am, 3 minutes after sunrise. In the evening the moon rises at 7:37 pm, 8 degrees north of east, and 6 minutes after sunset. On Monday morning the moon sets at 7:18 am.
Perth will have a nice early moonset on Sunday morning at 5:40 am, 4 minutes after sunrise. It will rise in the evening at 6:40 pm, 8 degrees north of east, and 11 minutes after sunset. Moonset on Monday morning will be at 6:34 am
How to enjoy the supermoon
This supermoon will correspond very closely to sunrise and sunset times, which means it won't rise too early or late. Though its highest point will be around midnight.
When looking for a place to enjoy the supermoon rise generally you want to head to the waterfront. For Sydney and Brisbane this is fairly easy as the beaches face to the east, but with Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth it is harder. Though the Swan River in Perth provides plenty of places for supermoon views over the water.
If you know of any great supermoon watching locations, include them in the comments.
It is also a good idea to get up high. In Sydney, you have great views over the greater Sydney area from the Blue Mountains on the Old Bells Line. Brisbane's Mt Coot-tha attracts lots of moonrise watchers. In other cities you want to get further out of the city.
As I have already said, moonlight hiking is a lot of fun. But with the early moonrise for this supermoon, the best place might be to hike up a hill with easterly views. Remember to take torches and headlamps with you as you will be coming down in the dark. Yes, the supermoon will light the way, but moonlight shadows are very dark.
The Supermoon is a great opportunity to take moonrise and moonset photos. This year, especially so, as the horizon will be still lit at moonrise in Australia's cities. This allows you to take great moon photos and still have the landscape in the shot.
If the sky is light enough you will be able to take the photo of the moon with even a pocket camera or mobile phone. However ideally you need a camera that lets you manually control both the timing and aperture. As it gets darker, a tripod becomes essential. Even on a cloudy day you can get some cool moon photographs.
This isn't the first time that I've received information about events through Weekend Notes PAST the date of the event. In this case, I can still look for the moon, though I've missed the peak time. Why the time lag?