Supermoon lights up sky on Sunday

The moon at 9 p.m. PST, as viewed from California. The supermoon will be most visible during the early morning hours of Dec. 4.

Rose Guan

The moon at 9 p.m. PST, as viewed from California. The supermoon will be most visible during the early morning hours of Dec. 4.

by Irina Malyugina, Reporter

This year’s brightest supermoon occurred from the night of Dec. 3 to the night of Dec. 4.

On Sunday night, the moon will be almost as close as possible to the Earth. It will appear 16 percent brighter and seven percent larger. The supermoon can be seen from any place in the world with clear skies; however, the view is best from a dark place.

“I recommend going up into the hills toward the parking lot at Sky Line that the bicyclists use for staging at Highway 35 and Highway 9 because there’s parking there,” astronomy teacher Dr. Eric Nelson said. “It’s flat, and the trees have been cleared reasonably well.”

The moon orbits the Earth in an ellipse, meaning that it is not the same distance from the Earth year-round. The point at which it is closest to Earth is called perigee, and the point at which it is furthest from the Earth is the apogee. A “supermoon” is common: any moon that appears larger than usual is a supermoon as it is closer to perigee than apogee.

As perigee is also the point at which moon is closest to the Sun, the supermoon will be brighter than usual. Because of this, there is some risk of damage to the eyes.

Supermoons occur annually and they often draw spectators attempting to capture a rare astronomical phenomenon.

“Full moons are lousy for astrophotography,” Dr. Nelson said. “There are no shadows, which means you don’t have a lot of contrast.”

Timothy Chang (11) is interested in astrophotography and has taken pictures of the moon in the past.

“You just need a really long lens,” he said. “You [also] need to find the right angle and you need to plan it out. You have to do research ahead of time.”

Certain camera settings can improve the quality of the photo.

“You shutter speed should be one over your focal length. So if your lens is 300 mm, then your slowest shutter speed should be 1/300 of a second,” Timothy said. “Beyond that, I think aperture is not that important, and then [for] ISO, keep it as low as possible.”

According to NASA’s website, daylight white balance is optimal for shooting a picture of the moon. Additionally, adding a terrestrial landmark into the composition may enhance the photo, emphasizing the size of the moon.

Weather permitting, a meteor shower will be visible in the Americas before dawn on Dec. 14 this year. Additionally, a total lunar eclipse should be partially visible on Jan. 31, 2018.