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Bigger and brighter, don’t miss the supermoon tonight

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THE last full moon of this year, on Sunday, December 3, will be a supermoon — a phenomenon that occurs when the moon is closest to the earth, which makes Earth’s natural satellite appear bigger and brighter.

Arvind Paranjpye, director of the Nehru Planetarium at Nehru Centre, Mumbai, told The Indian Express that the supermoon appears to be almost 14 per cent larger and about 30 per cent brighter than the normal full moon, as seen from Earth. “This is because the moon revolves round the Earth in an elliptical orbit. As the moon goes round the Earth, its distance from the Earth keeps changing,” he said.

In December, the moon will be closest to the Earth on December 4 at 2.15 pm (IST), when it will be 3,57, 492 km away from Earth. The full moon phase will be on December 3, at 9.16 pm, when the moon will be about 491 km (or 0.14%) farther than its closest point the next day. Its distance from Earth would be 3,57,983 km.

The best time to watch this supermoon is when it is rising, as a rising moon appears larger than when it is well above the horizon. This effect is termed as ‘moon illusion’.

“It is said that the moon appears larger because we compare it with terrestrial objects such as trees or buildings. But people have experienced this illusion even when there is nothing to compare the moon with, such as during a sea voyage.The illusion also changes from person to person. Some people perceive the rising moon as twice as large…,” said Paranjpye.

Source: The Indian Express

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