Supermoon a big boon

Supermoon a big boon

Tumut astronomy buff Phil Bennett and his telescope are ready for the “supermoon” which will appear in our skies early on Tuesday morning.
Tumut astronomy buff Phil Bennett and his telescope are ready for the “supermoon” which will appear in our skies early on Tuesday morning.

THE moon is going to put on its biggest show in 70 years in the wee hours of Tuesday, and Tumut astronomy buff Phil Bennett isn’t going to miss out.

It will be a “supermoon”, when the moon gets closer to the Earth and looms larger in our sky than it has for the past seven decades.

We won’t see anything like it again until November 2034, and Phil has his whiz-bang LX 90 telescope ready to take it in.

“It’s going to 40,000km closer, which is quite a margin,” he said. “It’s not going to be five times bigger, but it is going to be close to the horizon, which will make it such a spectacle. After a while, as the day progresses, it will be less so.”

It is expected to be at its most spectacular when it hits it first full phase at 12.52am on Tuesday morning.

It will be the closest full moon of the 21st century so far, and places away from city lights are the ideal place to see it.

“I just hope there’s no clouds,” Phil said. However, he is urging caution to those looking at it.

“People who are looking at it through binoculars need to be careful, as the moon will be very bright, and if you look at it for too long you’ll look away and won’t be able to see anything else,” he said.

This won’t be a problem for Phil, as the filter he has on his telescope even allows him to look at the sun, and he has watched sun spot activity in the past. His telescope is fitted with a camera, giving him mementos of the things he has seen in the sky.

“When Mars was close a few years ago I was lucky enough to get pictures of its white cap,” he said.

He has been an astronomy buff for 25 years, and he and wife Valerie attend Canberra Astronomical Society meetings. They have had international exchange students over to view the stars and planets from a different perspective.

“The sky is different in the Southern Hemisphere from the north,” Phil said.

Much of astronomy’s appeal to Phil lies in its endless possibilities.

“People believe there is only one universe, but I say there are other universes out there,” he said.