2014 is the year of the supermoons. If you are not sure what this is, it is simply when the moon is full at the same time its orbit brings it closest to the earth. The result is an exceptionally bright moon over several days. The next supermoon is on September 9.
Attribution: Flickr - Johan J. Ingles-Le Nobel
Astronomers prefer not to use the term supermoon preferring instead to say perigee full moon. Perigee is the term for the place in an orbit where the distance between two bodies is the least.
While this might have you expecting some for of amazingly large large moon looming in the sky the reality is that while it is objectively bigger most of how we see the size of the moon is an optical illusion. Normally a moon on the horizon will appear much larger than one high in the sky. While psychology has not managed to provide a simple clear and universally accepted explanation for this, it seems to be the result of having reference points to compare the moon to.
The real joy of the supermoon is the brightness of the moon. You can enjoy this best by getting away from the city lights. You might be able to find a park near you to enjoy the moon but I most like moonlight hiking under the supermoon. When the moon is at its brightest you can hike without any other source of light. If you haven't done this I highly recommend it.
September moonrise, meridian and moonset times
On September 9 the moon will rise at 5:52 pm, be at its highest at 12:09 am the next morning and set at 6:20 am. This means that for this supermoon the sun will already have set for about 20 minutes when the moon rises, though the sun will rise before the moon sets the next day.
Attribution: Flickr - James Niland
September 9 is a Tuesday. Usually with supermoons you can enjoy the brilliant moon light for the day before and after. with approximately an hour of difference between days.
How to enjoy the supermoon
Being a week night many people will choose to go and watch the moonrise either over the city or water. Obviously Mt Coot-tha is the place to go to see the moonrise, but you might also try Highgate Hill park as well.
Attribution: Flickr - Peter
Because of the timing of the moonset you might consider rising early for this instead. Mt Gravatt is famous for its sunset views and should also provide equally good moonset views as well.
Around Brisbane there are plenty of seaside locations to watch the moon rise over the water. September should be warm enough to hang out on the beach or beach side park to enjoy the moonrise. Places such as Sandgate, Redcliffe and Wynnum will not only give you great ocean views but they also have plenty of places to buy food and coffee. If you don't want to be outside for the moon consider the Full Moon Hotel at Sandgate or other beach side bar or restaurant.
Moonlight hiking is something I believe everyone should have on their bucket list. The trick is to find somewhere with few over hanging trees because under the moonlight the shadows are still inky black.
Close to the city I have found that Mt Coot-Tha's Powerful Owl Trail is perfect for moonlight hiking without having to get out of the city. Some locations that have been suggested to me include White Rock Reserve near Ipswich, Bribie Island and bushland areas at South Port on the Gold Coast.
Make sure you are fully prepared for night hiking with at least warm clothes and a flashlight.
The supermoon is a great time to practice your moon photography. If you are lucky you may still have a little twightlight left at moonrise time which can produce the most spectacular photographs. For moon photography you will need a camera on which you can adjust both timing and aperture settings and a tripod to rest your camera.