#Supermoon #Earth – 6 Things to Avoid While Looking at the Supermoon : On November 12 and 13, the Moon will be full and near its perigee, or its closest orbital approach to Planet Earth, a combination that has recently entered public awareness as a “supermoon.”
During a “supermoon” the full moon appears slightly larger than usual: at its closest approach to Earth, the full moon looks around seven percent wider than average. Sound anticlimactic? It is, a little. But the term “Slightly Larger Than Average Moon” probably wouldn’t generate as many page views for the astrology sites that came up with the term.
That’s right: the Supermoon idea originated among astrologers, not astronomers. As astrologer Richard Nolle originally coined it in 1979, the term “Supermoon” originally meant either a full or a new moon at its closest approach to Earth.
If you asked an astronomer to come up with a term for that set of conditions, she’d probably call it something long the lines of “perigee-syzygy.“ “Perigee” as we said above, is the Moon’s closest approach to Earth; “syzygy” is when three or more astronomical objects are roughly lined up, which happens during every full or new moon.
Aside from eclipses of either the sun or moon, which happen only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are in syzygy, or transits of the sun, when another planet lines up between the Earth and Sun, astronomers generally only get excited about syzygy when they have an opportunity to use it in Scrabble, especially if a triple word score tile is involved.
In astrology, contrariwise, a supermoon is apparently a big deal. But you don’t have to care about astrology to appreciate a bigger-than-usual full moon. All you need is a good place to park yourself on the Earth’s surface.
Moderately good vision is a plus, of course, and you can boost whatever vision you have with lenses, ranging from army surplus binoculars to telescopes with price tags as astronomical as the heavenly bodies at which you point them.
We’ve taken care of the first part for you, with our list of 64 southern California stargazing sites. Use the map to find a site close to you, check out our listing for the site, and see if it might not be a worthwhile place for supermoon viewing.
Once you get there, you may find you have even the most popular stargazing sites all to yourself. A big bright full moon interferes with viewing other heavenly bodies, just by washing out the sky a little.
But you might find yourself joining a moon-gazing crowd instead. And as with any pastime, there are mistakes beginners can make that can interfere with your enjoyment, or the enjoyment of others nearby. With stargazing in particular, there are a couple bad practices that can actually cause significant damage to expensive equipment, or even personal injury.
So here are some Best Stargazing Practices for you to keep in mind whether you’re heading out to enjoy the Supermoon, or planning a trip two weeks after to explore the dark, moonless skies of Southern California.