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Best Supermoon: September 2015 Melbourne

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
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Enjoy the best supermoon of the year
There are 3 supermoons this year with the one on September 28 being the biggest and brightest. A supermoon, if you are not familiar with that term, is when the moon is closest to the Earth and so at its brightest.

Attribution: Flickr - Johan J. Ingles-Le Nobel
Attribution: Flickr - Johan J. Ingles-Le Nobel

Supermoon fun facts

There is some disagreement as to what a supermoon actually is. This is because "supermoon" is not an astronomical term. Instead, they prefer to use the phrase perigee full moon. A perigee is a point in an object's orbit when it comes the closest. Astronomers use specific minimum distance it has to come to classify the moon as a supermoon, rather than just the closest orbit of the year. This is why there can be more than one supermoon every year.

A supermoon (Attribution: Flickr - Mal Booth)
A supermoon (Attribution: Flickr - Mal Booth)

So you are reading this and thinking "Great, so on September 28 I will be able to look up and see a giant moon in the sky." Sorry to disappoint you. The problem is that the size that the moon appears is mostly an optical illusion. The moon appears larger on the horizon than it does high up in the sky. So even with a supermoon, it is not easy to see a difference in size.

However, the moon will be much brighter than normal. If you go somewhere away from all artificial light you notice the difference as the countryside or beach is illuminated by bright moonlight.

Remember the moon will actually be nearly full and pretty much just as bright for a few days around the full supermoon. So if you are busy on September 28 (as it is a Monday) or the sky is cloudy, you have a few other days to enjoy the supermoon.

Moon on a cloudy night (Attribution: Flickr - Nell)
Moon on a cloudy night (Attribution: Flickr - Nell)

Moonrise, meridian and moonset times on September 28

The moon rises 15 minutes after sunset at 6:34 pm. This is the perfect moonrise time. The sky should still be a little light as the moon rises. This is ideal for awesome landscape moonrise photos. The moon also sets 35 minutes after sunrise at 6:35 am. This is great for early morning risers who can enjoy the moon before it sets.

Supermoon activities

Watching the moonrise is the most popular supermoon activity. Now the two ideal locations are watching the moon rise over water or behind a cityscape.

To determine the best location you have to work out exactly where the moon is going to be rising. On September 28 it will rise 4 degrees north of true east and move north. Some locations that come to mind include heading out to Queenscliff, but that can be a little far for most people, especially on a Monday night. Alternatively why not try Point Gellibrand. Any other suggestions are welcome.

Supermoon over the MCG (Attribution: Flickr - Chris Phutully)
Supermoon over the MCG (Attribution: Flickr - Chris Phutully)

If you have ever wanted to have a go at moon photography, then the supermoon is the ideal time to give it a try. You don't need a DSLR camera, but ideally you will have a camera where you can manually set exposure setting. A tripod is a must. Because this supermoon is rising in partial light, moon photography will be easier than in full dark.

If I have the chance I love to go supermoon hiking, though September in Melbourne can still be chilly at night, it is definitely worth it if you rug up and take a thermos of tea, coffee, hot chocolate or soup. You have to find a perfect location with no overhanging trees. I am thinking of going for a beach walk this supermoon. Remember, no matter how bright the supermoon is, it remains very dark in the shadows and clouds easily hide the moon.

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When: Moonrise is at 6:34 pm
Cost: Free
Your Comment
I think you forgot to mention the lunar eclipse on the 28th of September 2015.
by QTIM (score: 0|8) 1463 days ago
Fingers crossed for a clear night.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|7006) 1460 days ago
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