If you’re the kind of person who enjoys a romantic stargazing expedition, or just an astronomy geek, then tonight is when you’ll be able to see a supermoon, ie a full moon or a new moon at its closest point to Earth. A supermoon, technically called a perigee moon, occurs when the sun, moon, and Earth all line up and the moon’s orbit is closest to the earth. On November 14, the moon will be at its biggest and brightest in nearly 70 years. NASA says a supermoon can be as much as 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than an apogee full moon. Tonight’s full moon is not only the closest full moon of 2016 but also the closest full moon to date in the 21st century. The full moon won’t come this close to Earth again until November 25, 2034.
Have we piqued your interest yet? If you’d like to see the raw beauty of the supermoon (remember that it will reach the peak of its full phase at 16.51 IST; the full moon will occur at 19.22 IST), try and get out of the city as the bright city lights and clouds can diminish its brightness. Don’t even bother taking a telescope with you – the moon is easily visible in all its glory with the naked eye. Also, don’t look at your smartphone or take pictures of the moon before you’ve seen it with your naked eye as those lights can mess with your eye’s natural night vision. Here’s our pick of places you can go for some great visibility.
Visit one of the towns along the Konkan coast, such as Murud, to get supremely clear skies. The absence of pollution and the natural quietness will ensure you have a great supermoon experience. There are some excellent homestays and MTDC resorts you can book yourself into for the night as well. Lonavala, Khandala and Bhandardara are other good options. If, however, you’d like somewhere a bit closer, then Shahapur, Vangani and Karjat are good options – just 70-80km from Mumbai, they can be reached within an hour and a half.
Head for the hills in either Himachal or Uttarakhand to see clear skies and the bright moon and stars. Dalhousie, Mussoorie, Manali all offer great views, as do towns such as Jaisalmer and Bikaner in Rajasthan. The next best thing would be to grab hold of that friend who has a farmhouse on the outskirts of the city, where the pollution is less and the air is clean. And if all else fails, sign up with Nehru Planetarium, Amateur Astronomers Association Delhi or Astronomica, each of which conduct stargazing and other astronomical experiences.
Karnataka has a number of places you can head to if you want to spot the supermoon. The best option by far is a trip to Coorg, where the night skies are incredibly clear. If you’re looking for places closer to the city, options include Skandagiri (62km from Bengaluru city), an ancient mountain fortress; Bheemeshwari (100 km from Bengaluru), which rests on the banks of the Cauvery River and the edge of the Mutati forest range; Hosahalli (70km from Bengaluru), which is where The Bengaluru Astronomical Society members also conduct night sky observations; and Ramanagara (49km from Bengaluru), a popular adventure activity spot.
Last Chance to See
If you cannot make it today, don’t be disappointed. You’ll have one more chance to see the last supermoon of the year, on December 14.
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