August 30 is Perth's first full supermoon of the year. A supermoon is when the moon is full while also being closest to the Earth. The result is an amazingly bright moon.
A supermoon (Attribution: Flickr - Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel)
Facts about the supermoon
Astronomers are not fond the term supermoon. The correct term is perigee full moon. A perigee is the point in the moon's orbit when it is closest to the Earth. But between you and me, supermoon sounds a lot cooler, so I think I will stick to that word.
You are probably imagining that on a supermoon evening you will see a huge moon hanging gigantic in the sky. While the moon is in fact larger, the problem is that it won't actually appear that way to the viewer. You see the size that moon appears is mostly optical illusion, with the moon appearing to be bigger when it is closer to the horizon and smaller when it is directly overhead.
However a supermoon is much brighter than a normal moon. If you have the chance, get away from city lights so you can enjoy the supermoonlight.
Moonrise, meridian and moonset times on August 30
The moon will rise at 6:41 pm, about 40 minutes after the sunset. This will provide an opportunity to see the moonrise in full darkness. It will be at its highest 9 minutes after midnight and set at 7:22 am, 40 minutes after sunrise.
But actually the moon will be bright and close to full for several days around the full supermoon. If you have the bad luck of the supermoon being on a cloudy or rainy day, or you are just busy, then you can also go out and enjoy the moonlight on another night. The day before the supermoon is a Saturday, which is a better day for staying up late to enjoy the moon.
Great supermoon activities
So the obvious activity is to watch the moon rise. The ideal spots include the moon rising over water or behind a cityscape. In Perth the Swan river provides plenty of opportunities to find a vantage point for a bit of both.
Moonrise in Perth (Attribution: flicker - Ninian Reid)
The trick is to know exactly where the moon will rise. On August 30 it will rise 5 degrees south of true East. If you have a favourite moonrise watching location let us know in the comments.
If you are an early riser, you will have a change to see the moon approach the horizon as the sky lightens. This can be much better than when the sky is fully dark and is certainly better for photographs.
Speaking of photographs, the supermoon is the perfect time for you to drag that tripod that you bought, but never used, out of the closet and have a go at supermoon photography. You don't need a Digital SLR camera to photograph the moon, but you will need one that lets you adjust both timing and aperture. A remote control for the camera helps stop camera shake when you press the buttonB but if you don't have a remote control, you can also use the camera's timer.
Photographing the supermoon (Attribution: Flickr - trophygeek)
My own favourite supermoon activity is night hiking. If you can't get out into the countryside you can just find a nice open park. The main thing is to find a place with few or no overhanging trees. While the moon is bright enough for hiking, moonlight shadows are still very dark.