Status: 02.10.2023, 04:45 a.m.
By: Emanuel Zylla
So close and yet so far: The supermoon in the sky. (Archive image) © IMAGO/Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post
When the moon comes particularly close to the earth, it is fascinating. The last supermoon of the year has a lot to offer.
Munich – On Friday (29 September), it's time to point binoculars and telescopes – or even just your eyes – at the evening sky, because that's when it's that time again: a special full moon, a so-called supermoon, will once again be able to impress. So it's best to marvel at the Earth's satellite at the moonrise, which in this country is between 19 and 20 p.m. Especially space enthusiasts and romantics should definitely make a note of this date. It will be the last supermoon this year.
On Friday, Luna will reach her full moon position at 11:58 a.m., as reported by Geo magazine. The best conditions for the supermoon – as long as the weather cooperates. According to the German Weather Service, it will be cloudy in many places on Friday evening. Maybe the clouds will still allow a glimpse of the supermoon from time to time.
Supermoon shortly after the calendrical beginning of autumn
But it is also a special supermoon, because shortly after the calendrical beginning of autumn (September 23rd) in our part of the earth, it is also a September moon, which is called the harvest moon according to old usage. Because of its high brightness, it once helped people to harvest longer in the fields.
According to the website timeanddate.de, the full moon will rise on Friday in Germany at these times and set on Saturday:
|City||Moonrise | Moonset|
|Aachen||19:34 p.m. | 07:19 a.m.|
|Berlin||19:04 p.m. | 06:48 a.m.|
|Flensburg||19:19 p.m. | 07:04 a.m.|
|Frankfurt am Main||19:24 p.m. | 07:09 a.m.|
|Munich||19:13 p.m. | 06:56 a.m.|
|Cologne||19:31 p.m. | 07:16 a.m.|
Enlightenment from the astrologer Richard Nolle, who gave the supermoon its name
By the way, the term "supermoon" comes from astrology and has been adopted into common parlance. The astrologer who gave the supermoon its name in 1979 is Richard Nolle. According to a 2011 text on his website, he felt "forced" to explain what constitutes a supermoon because of misrepresentations in the media: "On average, you see it four to six times a year." To be "super," the moon must be in or near the closest point to Earth, also called "perigee," in its orbit around Earth.
Richard Nolle formulates what exactly happens during a supermoon: "The term describes a new or full moon that occurs when the moon comes closest to or is close to the Earth in a certain orbit. In short, the Earth, the Moon and the Sun are all in line."
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Seemingly so close, but so far away: Supermoon closer than average to Earth
The Moon orbits the Earth in an elliptical orbit, so the distance of the Moon from the Earth changes, as the US astrophysicist Fred Espenak describes on his website. "With averages of 363,396 km in perigee and up to 405,504 km in apogee." The latter is the technical term for the farthest point of the Moon from Earth.
In the coming supermoon, the moon will come within about 361,552 kilometers of Earth, Espenak said. The supermoon on August 31 was 357,344 kilometers, and the supermoon on August 1 was still 357,530 kilometers. But no matter how, the fourth and last supermoon this year is still closer than average to our planet and therefore certainly worth a look at the sky.
Various effects make the upcoming Harvest Supermoon a sight to behold
What we see in the sky at the end, however, the difference in size to an average full moon is limited. According to Nasa, a supermoon appears up to 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter in the night sky than the faintest moon of the year. You would have to hold the two moon variants right next to each other to see a difference in size.
Nevertheless, the supermoon will be worth seeing, as Business Insider learned from Patrick Hartigan, a professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University: "There is also an optical illusion that the moon appears larger when it is near the horizon. Together with the small supermoon effect, this will all lead to a nice harvest moon season in 2023."
According to Hartigan, another effect of the upcoming "harvest supermoon" could be a change in coloration. For example, it can appear "deep yellow, orange or red when it is above the horizon for the first time." This should then move even the last skeptic to enjoy the coming supermoon. Moreover, the next one will not be seen again until August 19, 2024. (zy)