Supermoon: St Albans astronomer says ‘enjoy the view’

PUBLISHED: 16:43 14 November 2016

On November 14, the moon will be closest to Earth since 1948. Photo courtesy:Twitter/@NASA

On November 14, the moon will be closest to Earth since 1948. Photo courtesy:Twitter/@NASA

Twitter/@NASA

A St Albans astronomer has recommended those keen to see the ‘supermoon’ tonight (Monday) to “pack some hot chocolate and go and enjoy the view with friends”.

Supermoon rising behind the Soyuz rocket. Photo courtesy:Twitter/@nasahqphotoSupermoon rising behind the Soyuz rocket. Photo courtesy:Twitter/@nasahqphoto

Dr Mikko Tuomi, from the School of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “Astronomically speaking an event such as a supermoon is not that significant, but it something great to look at for the wider public.

“The moon delivers a rather unusual visual display due to its celestial nature. For anyone who wants to watch it, I would certainly suggest packing some hot chocolate and go and enjoy the view with friends.”

The expert explained: “A ‘supermoon’ occurs when the moon is on its orbit closest to the Earth and that happens to coincide with the full moon, making it appear even larger and brighter in the sky than usual.

“Although the moon’s distance from the Earth does not vary much monthly, from roughly 220 to 250 thousand miles, the difference can still be seen rather easily by a casual observer.

Dr Mikko Tuomi, from the School of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics at the University of HertfordshireDr Mikko Tuomi, from the School of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics at the University of Hertfordshire

“This phenomenon can be exaggerated by an optical illusion if the moon is close to the horizon. In such a case it might appear even larger because its apparent size can be contrasted with objects on the ground, such as trees and buildings.”

Unfortunately for Dr Tuomi, he will not be able to enjoy the spectacle as he is travelling to Europe when the moon will be out, and is unlikely to see it because of clouds.

NASA scientists have studied the moon for decades, with the agency saying in a recent statement that a better understanding of our moon helps scientists infer what is happening on other planets and objects in the solar system.

A scientist at NASA described the moon as “the Rosetta Stone by which we understand the rest of the solar system”.

Extensive mapping of the moon aids scientists in understanding our planet’s history, as well as that of planetary objects beyond the Earth-moon system.

We will not see another supermoon like this until 2034.

• The moon is set to rise at about 4.45pm. The Met Office said that while it is forecast to be cloudy, there ‘are some breaks’ likely, which should allow people to see the supermoon.

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Recently we, as a family (minus two of the kids), visited The Lodge RSPB reserve in Sandy, Bedfordshire. I had never been before, which is perhaps amiss of me as a birdwatcher as it is the headquarters of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds or RSPB and only 45 minutes drive from home.

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