The final supermoon of 2023 will rise this week – how and when to see the lunar event from the UK


This week will be your last chance of the year to catch a glimpse of the spectacular supermoon, so make sure you know how to spot this rare celestial event.

Friday night will be the last in a rare series of four supermoons for 2023 and your last chance to see one until September 2024.

Stargazers and amateur astronomers alike should rejoice as the moon will be extra bright and larger in the sky, as well as rising earlier than usual.

In the UK, sunset will be at 18:45 on Friday, with the moon predicted to rise shortly afterwards, so just go out and look skywards to make the most of the last supermoon of the year.

The moon will be so big and bright that it will be clearly visible with the naked eye from anywhere in the country, but don’t forget to bring binoculars if you want to see some amazing details of the moon’s surface.

This week will be your last chance of the year to catch a glimpse of the spectacular supermoon, so make sure you know how to spot this rare celestial event

This week will be your last chance of the year to catch a glimpse of the spectacular supermoon, so make sure you know how to spot this rare celestial event

What is a supermoon?

A supermoon is a full moon that occurs when the Moon is as close to the Earth as it possibly can be.

The Moon does not revolve around the Earth in a perfect circle but rather traces an ellipse as it moves around its 27.3-day cycle.

This means that during a lunar orbit the distance between the Earth and the Moon varies between 252,719 miles (406,712 km) at its farthest point, or apogee, and 221,484 miles (356,445 km) at its closest point, called perigee. goes.

A supermoon is generally defined as a full moon that occurs when the Moon is at more than 90% of its circumference.

However, some scientists dislike the term ‘supermoon’ because it was coined in 1979 by an astrologer named Richard Noll.

Mr. Noll was also responsible for spreading the idea that supermoons cause earthquakes and volcanoes as well as influence human behavior – theories that have been completely rejected by scientific research.

Astronomers often prefer to use the term ‘perigee zenith’, which is defined as a full moon when the center of the moon is less than 223,000 miles (360,000 km) from Earth.

This week’s full moon is also the first full moon after the autumn equinox, meaning it will be a Super Harvest Moon.

The Harvest Moon is extra bright and rises earlier than usual, so called because it is believed to allow farmers to do harvesting work at night in preparation for the coming winter.

The distance between the Earth and the Moon during a lunar orbit ranges between 252,719 miles (406,712 km) at its farthest point, or apogee, and 221,484 miles (356,445 km) at its closest point, called perigee.

The distance between the Earth and the Moon during a lunar orbit ranges between 252,719 miles (406,712 km) at its farthest point, or apogee, and 221,484 miles (356,445 km) at its closest point, called perigee.

What makes a supermoon special?

A supermoon is a rare event because the moon’s orbit and phase cycle are not in sync, so the full moon often does not align with perigee.

During a supermoon, the moon will appear 14 percent brighter than normal and about 30 percent brighter.

Since Friday’s supermoon occurs 32 hours and 52 minutes after the moon passes its closest point, the moon may be at least seven percent larger and 15 percent brighter, making the difference difficult to detect with the naked eye.

Seeing the Moon rise above the horizon can make it seem as if it is much larger than usual, however this is due to something called the ‘moon illusion’.

Due to this effect the Moon appears much larger to us when it is low on the horizon, despite remaining the same size throughout the night.

Scientists don’t agree on what exactly causes the moon illusion or have any good explanation for why it happens so consistently, even for astronauts viewing the moon from the ISS. Too.

You'll have to wait a bit to see the next supermoon, as the next one won't happen until September 18, 2024.

You’ll have to wait a bit to see the next supermoon, as the next one won’t happen until September 18, 2024.

Some theories suggest that this is because our brain expects objects on the horizon to be further away and therefore appear smaller.

Because the Moon remains the same distance from Earth, our brain may overcorrect how far away it appears, making it appear larger than it actually is.

Other theories claim that the effect may include comparisons to objects in the Moon’s foreground, such as trees and buildings.

With dry weather forecast for much of the country this Friday, this could be a great opportunity to test this illusion for yourself.

This week’s supermoon will also be a great opportunity to see the planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury.

Saturn will begin to rise shortly before sunset and reach its highest point or zenith at 10:42 pm, followed by Mercury at 11:55 pm and finally Saturn at 3:18 am.

When is the next supermoon?

You’ll have to wait a bit to see the next supermoon, as the next one won’t happen until September 18, 2024.

This will be a special event, as it will also be a partial lunar eclipse, meaning a portion of the Moon will pass through Earth’s shadow and appear red.

According to Professor Sarah Russell, senior head of research at the Natural History Museum, ‘A lunar eclipse can look amazing, and when it is a supermoon it should be quite spectacular.’

There will be two other supermoons throughout the year in 2024, one on October 17 and the other on November 15.


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