Supermoon: World's Skywatchers Seek Clear Skies For Rare Sight
t7.1.12 Bob King -- kingMOON0802c -- The nearly full moon rises above the treetops Tuesday evening. Tonight will be the first of two full moons this month. The second or Blue Moon occurs on the 31st.

Supermoon: World’s Skywatchers Seek Clear Skies For Rare Sight

Natural phenomenon, which is largest in 68 years, will be visible after sunset on Monday wherever you are in the world.

The largest supermoon in 68 years has started to peep through the clouds in Australia and Asia as astronomers across the world anticipate the stunning natural phenomenon.

Skygazers were making for high-rise buildings, ancient forts and beaches in an attempt to get the best views.

The phenomenon happens when the moon is full at the same time as, or very near, perigee – its closest point to Earth on an elliptical, monthly orbit. Clear skies allowing, it will be visible shortly after sunset on Monday wherever people are in the world.

Nasa said this moon would be “especially super” as it would be the closest to Earth since 1948 and there wouldn’t be another like it until 2034.

Thousands of people headed to Bronte beach in Sydney to witness the event, but clouds largely spoiled the party, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

But in Queensland and western Australia the supermoon lit up the night sky.

Amateur photographers, families and astronomy enthusiasts jostled for prime position on Brisbane lookout Mount Coot-tha to watch the lunar event.

Picnics were being organised in downtown Hong Kong for residents to watch the supermoon rise over the financial hub’s skyline, while hikers were heading to the greener, more distant corners of the city to enjoy views with less light pollution.

The landmark Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taiwan, one of the world’s tallest buildings, was due to welcome skygazers. Astronomers predicted it would be one of the biggest moons seen from the island in nearly 100 years.

Special viewing events were being organised by astronomy groups, with members of one group in Indonesia’s Yogyakarta – the heart of an ancient sultanate – taking to the rooftop of their headquarters to get a glimpse of the supermoon as it rises over the city’s historic buildings.

Meanwhile, professional astronomers were at the ready in observatories across the region to explain the phenomenon to curious members of the public.

“We are getting students calling in, there are many who want to come,” said Mario Raymundo, the head of the Philippine government’s main observatory.

The supermoon will also mean a stronger high tide, something that gets surfers excited, not only at the prospect of riding bigger waves, but doing so at night.

Tides were predicted to be higher than usual on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali, a favourite with surfers.

In Thailand, astrologers were variously predicting the supermoon would bring disaster or great fortune.

Soraja Nuan-yoo, renowned for predicting the 2004 tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands in countries around the Indian Ocean, said that when the moon got close to the Earth “natural disasters happen”.

Astronomers say it can be hard to notice that the moon appears brighter than usual. Once it is high in the sky, it is hard to tell the moon is larger but on the horizon, it can appear quite spectacular.

For the best view, Pascal Descamps, of the Paris Observatory, recommended that people choose somewhere with a well-known landmark in the foreground.

In Britain, weather forecasters said the best chance of witnessing the supermoon would be in eastern Scotland, north-east England, north-east Wales and the east of Northern Ireland.

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