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Monday Night's Super Moon Will Be The Biggest And Brightest Since 1948

It's gonna be 'uuuge.

11/11/2016 11:07 AM AEDT | Updated 11/11/2016 4:49 PM AEDT
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Full super moon over dark black sky at night taken on 18 august 2016. Super moons happen regularly but this Monday will be the biggest and brightest since 1945.

A rare event will occur when you gaze at the sky on Monday night -- the moon will appear bigger and brighter than any full moon since 1948.

A 'super moon' occurs when the full moon coincides with the moon's closest position to earth. Associate Professor John O'Byrne from the University of Sydney's School of Physics told The Huffington Post Australia that because of the elliptical orbit of the moon, the earth and the moon are closer together than normal.

"The approach occurs once a month so it's not unusual but the alignment of the closest approach with the full moon is what people call a super moon. And this one is particularly unusual because the gravitational forces are adding up in such a way to give this slightly more extreme version of it than normal," he said.

The name super moon was actually coined by an astrologer around 35 years ago -- not an astronomer, an astrologer -- and in the field of astronomy, it's not such a significant event.

"The change in the force when you do the numbers caused by a super moon as opposed to another full moon is really very small," Associate Professor O'Byrne said, who is also the secretary of the Astronomical Society of Australia.

"Does it cause effects on people? Well that's really asking you if you believe in astrology or not. From an astrologer's point of view, no."

The best time and place to see the super moon

The very peak of this effect will be at 12:52am on the 15th November (Australian Eastern Daylight Time). But Associate Professor O'Byrne says stargazers won't have to stay up until the early hours of Tuesday morning to witness the super moon.

"I'd be looking at the full moon rising on the night of the 14th. It'll be almost full, so close to full that you'll never notice. And I think really you'll get the maximum impression when you look at the moon low on the horizon," Associate Professor O'Byrne said.

How to photograph the super moon

You'll have a good chance of snapping a great photo of the full moon when it's low in the sky as well. It's all a matter of perspective -- when there is something to compare the moon with, it appears larger.

"If you were very careful about it, you take the same photograph in a month's time or six months' time and you measured it very carefully you would find that it's up to 14 percent bigger in diameter, between biggest and smallest," Associate Professor O'Byrne said.

If you consider yourself a photography enthusiast, try some of these tips Roger Groom, the photographer behind Astro Photography Australia, shared with HuffPost Australia:

  • A large improvement is likely to be had by photographing the moon when it's higher in the sky, and so you are photographing through less atmosphere. Near the horizon, dust and distortion from the atmosphere will deteriorate image quality.
  • Technically the simple approach is to use a combination of aperture and ISO to achieve a reasonable shutter speed such as 125ths or faster. Typically this might be an ISO of 800 - 1600. Spot metering or manual exposure controls can be used to achieve proper exposure.
  • It is best if amateurs can photograph the moon through a telescope as the ideal focal length for photographing the moon with a full frame camera is approximately 1000 - 1500mm. Telescopes tend to start around 600mm focal length and go up from there. If you can't use a longer focal length such as this improve your photograph by making the Moon a feature of a landscape rather than simply trying to zoom in on the Moon.
  • To achieve best results video and image stacking techniques are used to overcome atmospheric conditions and improve sharpness, but this stepping in to the more advanced arena.

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