Today is the Supermoon Sunday. The full moon is at perigee, the point in its orbit when it's closest to the earth. The only visible Supermoon of 2017 will be observable to the entire world. According to NASA, the moon will appear 7 per cent larger and 15 per cent brighter than the average Full Moon. It will also be 14 per cent larger and 30 per cent brighter than the Micromoon, which is when the full moon is at apogee or the point in its orbit when it's furthest from the earth.
The last time the Supermoon was observed was in November 2016, when the moon was especially 'super', since it was closest to the earth it had been since 1948. Another Supermoon like that won't be witnessed until 2034.
We have had a year full of spectacular celestial events in 2017, from conjunctions of planets to dazzling meteor showers. Now, we are set to see the Super Moon on December 3 and star gazers have marked their calendars for that day, with the sole purpose of taking out their telescopes and cameras to witness the event. Due to heavy pollution and the recent cyclone forecast, there might be bad news for city star gazers as Bengalureans might or might not be able to see the Super Moon at all with such overcast skies.
Astronomy enthusiasts and experts were quite excited until they heard that it wouldn’t be possible to see the beautiful moon on Sunday. Engineering student and astronomy enthusiast, Akshata Gopinath shares, “I’ve been waiting to take out my telescope since winter is the season for visual astronomy, but the weather has been a dampener so far. If it does clear up, it’s always exciting to look at the craters on the moon up close.”
Another 20-year- old fellow enthusiast, Madhushree Dhondhalay had marked her calendar at the beginning of the year for this day and while she hopes the sky will clear up, she adds, “It will be quite a bummer if it does not.” Most regular astronomy lovers at the Bangalore Astronomy Society believe that the Supermoon is not such a big deal for serious astronomy enthusiasts.
Keerthi Kiran, who is an astrophotographer and associated with the Bangalore Astronomy Society for a couple of years, says, “Even though, it might not be a big deal for us since the Supermoon is when the moon is closest to the earth, and it is a full moon day, regular star gazers love to peek into telescopes. On this day, the moon looks 10 percent bigger and 20 percent brighter. Apart from that, there is no other significance. The Supermoon does help us create awareness in the public about astronomy,” he adds.
Every year, Keerthi says, “I go to the Himalayas to shoot photos of the stars, nebulae and galaxies. That is one of my favourite astro-expeditions of all time.”
Pramod Galgali, a Bengaluru-based expert at the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium shares the same worries others are mulling over, “It will be hard to see the Super Moon through the Bengaluru skies this year. It looks like it’s going to be a wash-out as it is only possible to see it when the sky is clear.” Let’s hope for clear skies.