Astronomers say the moon will go “super” this weekend, but that will mean bad news for the meteor shower watchers.
The Super Moon, or the year’s biggest full moon, will delight all on 5th of May, 2012, starting from 23:35 EST (or 03:35 GMT on May 6th). Even though the moon will be at its biggest for just a few hours, the full moon will appear to last for a full three days starting on 4th May till 6th May.
Unfortunately, the bright moon will wipe out the faint Eta Aquarids, the meteor shower from the debris of the Halley comet. However, given that the Eta Aquarids register at a high count of 60 meteors per hour, one shouldn’t lose all hope. Let’s just say that it won’t be seen in its usual self. Meteor shower enthusiasts will agree that the Aquarids are not really that bad a miss.
The Super Moon happens at the full moon when the moon is closest to the Earth. The 2011 Super Moon was spectacular – the moon won’t be that close to the Earth in another 18 years.
This year’s Super Moon won’t be that great, but it will still be quite a sight, with the moon appearing 14% bigger and 28% brighter than usual full moon nights.
Photo enthusiasts interested in sky watching should definitely aim at photographing the Super Moon. Last year’s was a bumper catch and this time too people are optimistic. A tripod is not necessary, as you’ll require really small exposure time for the moon, but getting to a place with a clear sky will definitely mean a lot for the clarity of the photo. Unlike other night photos, you will be well-advised to keep the ISO of your camera sensor low.
And as for the Eta Aquarids, we aren’t very optimistic, especially if you were planning to photograph them. Living in the Southern Hemisphere will give you a slight advantage and you’ll be lucky to see a few good and bright streaks. The fact that you won’t be able keep your camera shutter open for most of the area in the sky, due to the bright moon, will not help your cause.