Ex­tra- su­per­moon on Mon­day night

> This will be the clos­est im­age of Earth’s satel­lite in 68 years, at a dis­tance of 356,509 kilo­me­tres

The Sun (Malaysia) - - FEATURE -

AN UN­USU­ALLY large and bright Moon will adorn the night sky on Mon­day – the clos­est ‘su­per­moon’ to Earth in 68 years, and a chance for dra­matic pho­tos and spec­tac­u­lar surf.

Weather per­mit­ting, the phe­nom­e­non should ap­pear at its most impressive at 1352 GMT (9.52pm Malaysian time), when the moon will be at its fullest just as night falls over Asia, as­tronomers said.

Pro­vided there are no cloud cov­er­age and not too much light pol­lu­tion, peo­ple should be able to see Earth’s satel­lite loom un­usu­ally large over the hori­zon shortly after sun­set, ir­re­spec­tive of where in the world they are.

This hap­pens when the Moon is full at the same time as, or very near, perigee – its clos­est point to Earth on an el­lip­ti­cal, monthly or­bit.

“On Nov 14, it be­comes full within about two hours of perigee – ar­guably mak­ing it an ex­tra-su­per Moon,” Nasa says on its web­site.

The or­bit it­self is change­able, mean­ing the dis­tance from Earth dif­fers from perigee to perigee.

This time, it will be the clos­est since 1948 at a dis­tance of 356,509 kilo­me­tres (221,524 miles). The av­er­age is 384,400km.

This com­ing Mon­day, the full Moon’s rel­a­tive prox­im­ity should make it ap­pear about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than at its fur­thest or­bit point, ac­cord­ing to the Ir­ish As­tro­nom­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion (IAA).

“Be­cause the Earth/Moon sys­tem will be get­ting quite close to the time of year when it is clos­est to the Sun (Jan 4, 2017), the Moon will be re­ceiv­ing more sun­light than av­er­age, also boost­ing its ap­par­ent bright­ness,” said IAA.

Fur­ther­more, the Moon’s po­si­tion in the sky will mean its south­ern hemi­sphere, the brighter of the two, will be turned to­wards Earth, the IAA added.

With­out fore­knowl­edge, one might barely no­tice that the Moon ap­pears brighter than usual, as­tronomers say.

Once it is high in the sky, it would be hard to tell that the Moon is larger. But on the hori­zon, the ef­fect could be quite spec­tac­u­lar.

“When you look at the Moon when it’s ris­ing, there is this op­ti­cal il­lu­sion where it looks bigger,” as­tronomer Mark Bai­ley, emer­i­tus di­rec­tor of the Ar­magh Ob­ser­va­tory in North­ern Ire­land, told AFP.

Ly­ing low, as a back­drop to trees or build­ings for con­text, our satel­lite ap­pears larger to the hu­man eye de­spite be­ing the same size the whole night.

Su­per­moons are ac­tu­ally quite com­mon – there is one ev­ery 14 months on av­er­age.

“But some su­per­moons are more su­per than oth­ers,” said Pas­cal Descamps of the Paris Ob­ser­va­tory.

The closer it is to the Earth, the more spec­tac­u­lar it is.

“If you want to try to im­age it, choose a lo­ca­tion where you’ll get some nice ter­res­trial fea­ture in the fore­ground: a well-known land­mark such as a tower or a spire will pro­vide a nice com­par­i­son, par­tic­u­larly if you stay back a bit and use a zoom or tele­photo lens which will mag­nify both ob­jects,” added the IAA.

The su­per­moon will also mean a stronger high tide, some­thing that gets surfers giddy with ex­cite­ment.

Not only are they thrilled at the prospect of rid­ing bigger waves, but do­ing so at night.

The next com­pa­ra­ble event will be in 2034, when the Moon will come even closer, by 64km, to Earth. – AFP

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