The brightest supermoon in 68 years may be out of sight for most New Zealanders next week.
Cloud is threatening to ruin our extra-supermoon party, and most of the country might have to make do with the view of the Moon a day early or late.
While supermoon is not strictly a scientific term it has become increasingly popular in recent years. It refers to a full moon that coincides with the point in the Moon’s elliptical orbit when it is at its closest to the Earth known as perigee.
The supermoon that will happen in the early hours of Tuesday is particularly special because it will be the closest full moon to the Earth since January 1948. The next time the full moon is as close won’t be until November 2034.
The Moon will be at perigee at 23 minutes past midnight on Tuesday. At that moment its centre will be 356,509km from the centre of the Earth. The exact moment of full moon will be around 2.52am on Tuesday.
Alas, it occurs at a time when yet another patch of rough spring weather is forecast to be dominating the country.
Based on the forecast, people in Christchurch and northern Canterbury probably have the best chance of being able to see the full moon in the early hours of Tuesday, MetService meteorologist Tom Adams said. In the North Island, the best chance was likely to be in Gisborne and northern Hawke’s Bay.
Even in those areas there was a risk of high cloud, as cloud moved in from the west. “It does look like the whole country is going to be pretty cloudy that night.”
AMR ABDALLAH DALSH/Reuters
But in Christchurch and north Canterbury the cloud shouldn’t be thick and there should be enough gaps in it for the Moon to be visible.
Also around 3am the Moon would be close to straight up, reducing the chance of cloud getting in the way. “If you’re trying to look at the horizon it doesn’t take much cloud to get in the way. If you’re looking straight up, the cloud has to be directly above you for it to get in the way,” Adams said.
On Sunday night, people in eastern areas of both islands should have a reasonable chance of seeing the Moon. High cloud was likely in the west.
A southerly change moving into the lower South Island on Monday night would hopefully be followed by clearing skies on Tuesday, Adams said. So on Tuesday night there could be some gaps in the clouds in most parts of the country, although cloud could still be thick around Bay of Plenty, Auckland and Northland, and maybe East Cape.
Nasa is responsible for coining the description “extra-super” moon. Getting more technical, it said the Earth-Moon-Sun system was going to be in perigee-syzygy, when the Earth, Sun and Moon lined up. In the case of a full moon, the Moon was on the opposite side of the Earth from the Sun.
A supermoon, or perigee full moon, could be as much as 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter, than the full moon at apogee – the point of its orbit furthest from the Earth.
In Glastonbury, UK.
In Glastonbury, UK.
Auckland’s Stardome observatory said that because of the way our brains work, the apparent size of the Moon was best appreciated as it was rising and close to the horizon.
“Your brain needs some visual clues like trees or buildings before the size difference is properly seen,” Stardome said. It suggested people find a good view of the eastern horizon and watch the supermoon rise around 8.45pm, “if the sky is clear of clouds”.
Courtesy : stuff.co.nz