Mumbai: Catch a glimpse of the supermoon glow tomorrow night

Dec 02, 2017, 15:24 IST | Gaurav Sarkar

The December 3 full moon will appear 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than a normal full moon as seen from earth

Winter magic will be at its peak in the astral skies this December. The last full moon of the calendar year, on December 3, will also be a supermoon, proving to be the perfect end-of-the-year for selenophiles.

A full moon shines down on the gloriously-lit dome of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. File pic
A full moon shines down on the gloriously-lit dome of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus. File pic

The supermoon is a full moon that occurs when the moon is closest to the earth, thus appearing bigger and brighter. Supermoons appear about 14 per cent bigger and about 30 per cent brighter than a normal full moon as seen from earth. This is because moon revolves round the earth in an elliptical orbit, its distance from our planet ever changing.

"The full moon phase on December 3 will occur around 9.16 pm, at a distance of 3,57,983 kilometres from earth," said Arvind Paranjpye, director, Nehru Planetarium. "Moon will be closest to earth the next day, December 4, at 2.15 pm - 491 km closer than the previous day."

Look up
"The best time to watch this supermoon would be when it's rising," said Paranjpye, as it is at this time that it has a reddish tinge to it. "Generally, a rising moon appears larger when it is well above the horizon. This effect is termed as 'moon illusion'. However, there is no clear scientific understanding for this. It is said that the moon appears larger because we compare it with terrestrial objects, such as trees or buildings. But people have had this illusion even when there is nothing to compare moon with, such as during sea voyage. The illusion also changes from person to person. Some people perceive rising moon twice as large and some none at all."

Interestingly, if one stands with their back to the rising moon and bends down to see it from between one's legs, the illusion disappears, he added.

Festive times
Since time immemorial, the moon has played a very important role in people's lives. Although the sun gives us the day and seasons, and is worshiped by almost every culture across the world as the prime source of energy, we find far too many festivals and cultural events associated with the moon, or rather its phases.

In India, 'Holika Dahan' is one of the biggest lunar festivals, which is celebrated across the country on the full moon (purnima) of the last month, Phalgun, of the Indian calendar. This happens in February-end or early March.

The ideal watch point
People should go towards the Gateway of India and see the rising moon ascend into the sky," said Paranjpye. "Another great place to take pictures of the supermoon is when you're in front of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus."

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