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Supermoon in the Adelaide Skies

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by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
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Enjoy the magical light of the supermoon
September is going to deliver the best supermoon of the year in a year filled with supermoons. For those who are not sure what a supermoon is, it is when the moon is closest to the Earth during its orbit and is also full. The result is a beautiful bright moon.

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

Some Supermoon facts

While astronomers prefer to use the term perigee full moon, most people have no idea that a perigee is a point in an orbit where the two bodies are at their closest. So the general public uses the much cooler term, supermoon, instead.

While the expectation of a supermoon is a huge moon hanging large in the sky, the reality is often disappointing. The reason for this is that the size the moon appears to us is an optical illusion, with the moon appearing large close to the horizon and smallest when it is directly overhead.

However the moon will be much brighter than normal. I have been hiking under supermoons, and you keep looking around for where the street lights must be, only to realise that it is just the moon..

September 9 moonrise, meridian and moonset times

The moon will rise at 6:22 pm, 20 minutes after sunset, which means that for this supermoon it will be rising in full dark. It will be at its highest at 12:39 am the next morning and set at 6:48 am, 25 minutes after sunrise. So it should be a great night for moon watching.

Early morning risers should be able to view the supermoon setting in partial light, which can make for the most interesting photos.

Remember that the days preceding and following the full supermoon, you will still have a great bright nearly full moon. So if September 9 is cloudy you can still enjoy the moonlight on another night.

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

Popular Supermoon activities

Obviously watching the supermoon rise is one of the most popular activities, and with the moon rising shortly after dark. The perfect spot to watch the moon rise is over water. Unfortunately Adelaide is orientated the wrong way, though early risers on the coast should be able to see the moon setting. Anyone particularly keen could head out to somewhere like Victor Harbour for easterly views over the water.

To find the ideal city view location to watch and photograph the moon is about knowing exactly where the moon will rise. For the September supermoon it will be 91 degrees, or nearly due east, and drift north as it rises.

A supermoon is a great time to try moonlight hiking or walking. Ideally you want a location where there is little or no artificial lighting and few overhanging trees. Even through the moonlight is bright enough to hike under, shadows cast by moonlight are very dark. Make sure you prepare properly for night hiking.

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

Many budding and experienced photographers use a supermoon to practice their moonlight photography. To have the best chance of photographing the moon you will need a camera that allows you to adjust both exposure length and aperture. You will also need a tripod. To avoid any blurring in the photographs it is best if you use the timer on your camera, so that you don't get the camera shake as you press the button.
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