A fascinating supermoon lit up the skies last night, in a rare astronomical spectacle that does not happen again until September 2024.
Stargazers were in for a treat when the so-called ‘Harvest Moon’ shone brightly shortly after the sun set at 18:45 BST, marking the end of September.
It was the last in a rare series of four supermoons in 2023, including two in July that will not be seen again for 14 years.
Supermoons occur when a full moon nearly coincides with its “perigee” of 221,484 miles (356,445 km) from Earth.
‘[This occurs] when there is a full moon at the time when the moon is closest to the Earth,” astronomy professor Don Pollacco, from the University of Warwick, told MailOnline.
The blue September harvest moon hangs in the night sky, over Panama City, Panama
The last supermoon of 2023 rises over Whitby Piers on the North Yorkshire coast
The Harvest Moon rises over Ely Cathedral in the Cambridgeshire Fens on Friday night
FULL MOON NAMES AND THEIR MEANINGS
January: wolf moon because at this time the wolves were heard more.
February: snow moon coincide with heavy snowfall.
March: worm moon as the sun increasingly warmed the soil and the earthworms became active.
April: pink moon since it announced the appearance of Phlox subulata or moss rose, one of the first flowers of spring.
Can: moon flower for the abundance of flowers.
June: strawberry moon because it appeared when the first strawberry harvest took place.
July: Buck Moon just as it arrived when the antlers of a male deer were in full growth.
August: sturgeon moon after the big fish that was easily caught at this time.
September: Corn/Harvest Moon because it was time to harvest the corn.
October: Hunter’s Moon after time to hunt in preparation for winter.
November: beaver moon because it was time to set beaver traps.
December: cold moon because the nights at this time of year were the longest.
Source: Old Farmer’s Almanac
‘Consequently, the Moon may appear larger (10 to 15 percent) and brighter (25 to 30 percent) than a “normal” full moon.
‘To most people, they actually look a lot alike. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that when a full moon rises, it may appear larger than normal.
“This is partly due to the Earth’s atmosphere and also due to an optical illusion, like seeing the moon next to trees.”
Unlike monthly full moons, supermoons typically occur three to four times a year.
This is due to the very specific conditions required for supermoons to occur.
Astrophysicist Dr Paul Strøm, assistant professor at the University of Warwick, told MailOnline: ‘The moon orbits the Earth in a slightly elliptical orbit; think of a slightly flattened circle or oval.
«This means that sometimes the Moon is a little closer to us and sometimes a little further away. At the same time, the Moon goes through different phases (the shape of the part of the Moon illuminated by the Sun) as it orbits the Earth.
«A few times a year we happen to have a full moon, which coincides with the point in its orbit at which the moon is closest to us. That’s when people call it a supermoon.
“Since it occurs only a few times a year, one of these supermoons has to be the last.”
Although rare, astronomical phenomena have been at the center of countless myths and speculation for centuries.
Even Richard Nolle, the astrologer who first coined the term in 1979, was part of this.
He claimed that supermoons could cause volcanic eruptions, worsen earthquakes and even influence the behavior of humans on Earth.
These theories have since been refuted by scientists, who often prefer to use the term “perigee syzygy” to describe the phenomenon.
This refers specifically to the full moon. that occurs when the center of the Moon is less than 223,000 miles (360,000 kilometers) from Earth.
“The term itself has no scientific value: astronomers prefer to call it a perigee full moon, but certainly ‘supermoon’ is a much more charming name,” astrophysicist Gianluca Masi previously explained.
A plane passes in front of the Harvest supermoon as it lands at Heathrow Airport, London, last night
The Harvet Moon over Macquarie Lighthouse in Sydney last night
A full moon known as the Blue Moon rises behind the Temple of Poseidon, at Cape Sounion, near Athens, Greece, on August 30, 2023.
A supermoon occurs when the full moon almost coincides with its perigee, the point in the Moon’s orbit at which it is closest to Earth.
Tonight’s event is the last in a rare series of four supermoons in 2023, including two in July.
The name of this month’s Harvest Moon, or Corn, is believed to date back to farming communities that typically harvested their crops at the end of summer.
Fortunately, tonight’s supermoon will be large and bright enough to see clearly with the naked eye from anywhere in the country.
Although this largely depends on the weather, it is recommended to stay away from cloudy areas with a lot of light pollution.
Binoculars can also come in handy if you want to get a close-up glimpse of the lunar surface.
TIPS FOR SEEING A SUPERMOON
Rise high! The higher up you are, the better your chances of having a clear sky to see the stars, plus you’ll be able to see all the way to the horizon to see the moon rise!
Turn off the lights For stargazers from the comfort of their homes, turning off lights indoors can improve visibility of the night sky.
Choosing a night with clear skies suggests choosing a night when clear skies are expected for the best chances of seeing the stars.
Investigate what you’re seeing Enhance your stargazing experience and download Star Chart for free on AR-enabled Apple or Android devices.
FOUNTAIN: Parkdean Resorts