How, When And Where To Watch Tonight's Supermoon

When is the supermoon brightest?Image: iStock

When the sun goes down tonight, the world will be treated to the largest and brightest supermoon of the century. Here's how to get the best vantage point in Australia as well as some basic photography tips.

Yeah, yeah: we realise you can just poke your head outside to see tonight's supermoon. After all, it's the frigging moon. These tips are designed for people who want to get the very best results possible. Remember: there won't be another moon this big for almost 20 years so it's worth putting in some extra effort.

Bookmark for later: How To Watch November's Meteor Showers

Just what is a 'supermoon', anyway?

The moon on November 14 will be the largest we've seen since 1948 -- and there won't be another one this big until 2034.

The optical effect is caused by the moon's elliptical orbit bringing it closer to the Earth. In layman's terms, this is known as a 'super moon' or even 'extra-super moon', due to its even larger appearance. Tonight's moon will appear up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than other times of the year.

How do I watch the supermoon?

As astronomical events go, this one is pretty easy to watch: All you really have to do is head outside and look up. If the skies are clear in your area, the difference in size and brightness should be pretty obvious.

For best results, most astronomy buffs recommend heading to an east-facing beach or the top of a large hill or mountain (make sure there are uninterrupted views to the east!) Obviously, you should try to get there before dusk.

As with all celestial events, it pays to be away from bright city lights which have a tendency to pollute the night sky. Failing that, get on top of the highest building you can.

According to Perry Vlahos, the vice-president of the Astronomical Society of Victoria, the best vantage points in Sydney and Melbourne include Manly/Bondi and the western side of Port Phillip Bay, respectively.

Here are the best times to watch the moonrise, courtesy of ABC News:

  • Sydney: 7:07pm AEDT
  • Melbourne: 7:40pm AEDT
  • Hobart: 7:38pm AEDT
  • Adelaide: 7:32pm AEDT
  • Brisbane: 5:51pm AEST
  • Perth: 6:33pm AEST
  • Darwin: 6:37pm AEST

A note to Sydneysiders: the Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting low visibility tonight. Having just taken a peek outside I can confirm it's cloudy as buggery. BUT - the supermoon will be visible all night. With a bit of luck, things will clear up before midnight.

How to photograph tonight's supermoon

If you're after a great photo, set yourself up with a vantage point to the east and lower the exposure to bring out the details in the moon's surface. (You can find some in-depth tips here.)

I missed it! What now?

Trust it to be cloudy tonight. There'll be another supermoon on December 14 this year, albeit less large and bright. Better than nothing, we suppose.

It's cold out. Can't I just catch it on Youtube or something?

If you don't want to go outside, Slooh will be livestreaming the November moon with a discussion of the phenomenon, as well as the culture surrounding this particular full moon.

Anything else I should know about?

November is a stellar month for skywatchers: click here to find out about this month's meteor showers and other interesting astronomical events.


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