by Pat Browne
Sky and Telescope’s columnist Daniel Fischer writes in his lunar observing article: ‘supermoons’ a unique observing challenge
“This month’s full Moon will appear 30% larger in area than the smallest full Moons. But can you tell just by looking at it?”
When the moon is receiving full sunlight, and it is located at perigee in its orbit, then we have what is now commonly called a ‘supermoon’ Full Moon appearance . On November 13, the full moon will rise at Sunset and culminate (reach highest altitude) at Midnight as indicated. Amateur astronomers can take this opportunity to see if the ‘supermoon’ Full Moon appears visually larger than other Full Moon appearances when the moon is not at perigee or even when the moon is at apogee (furthest orbital point from Earth). You will need to do this over a number of observations. Compare your logbook observations and try some suggestions from Sky and Telescope articles:
- Try sketching the maria that you glimpse on the lunar surface at different times — does the visibility of small details improve near perigee?
- Try making a template that help you measure the apparent diameter (see Bob King’s article on making a ‘supermoon’ measuring gauge/)
The moon is a great thing to explore, and the Royal Astronomical Society has just produced a new Explore the Moon program
You can download your own copy here: Explore the Moon with a Telescope
Here’s a few good reasons to observe the moon…
Why Observe the Moon?
This may seem like a funny question. Many amateur astronomers, however, shun the Moon. It is true that moonlight interferes with the enjoyment of observing and the “faint fuzzies” which are deep-sky objects. A better option is to remain calm and observe the Moon on those nights when it dominates the sky. Here’s a list of benefits of lunar observing, particularly for beginning observers:
✮ It’s easy to find!
✮ You can observe from home, even in the city—no need to travel to a dark-sky site;
✮ The Moon is bright, offering plenty of detail, even in small telescopes or binoculars;
✮ Observing the Moon is ideal for learning how to operate your telescope and binoculars;
✮ Finding the principal features is not hard, so you can learn observing skills;
✮ It’s our nearest celestial neighbour ✮✮ – particularly at perigee!
Now we can add another reason to observe the moon…
✮✮ When the Full Moon is at perigee or apogee or somewhere in-between:
Does the apparent diameter change noticeably in our eyepiece from one Full Moon appearance to the next…?