Supermoon Facts, Myths and Moon Photography Tips (Updated for 2019)
What is a Supermoon?
Supermoon (or perigee) is when a full moon or a new moon coincides with the period when the moon is closest to Earth.
Since moon's orbit is elliptical, it's not always at the same distance from Earth. So 3-4 times a year we can observe a spectacular astronomical event when the moon looks like a giant fireball in the sky. It's quite striking.
The largest supermoon of the recent years took place on November 14, 2016 (the Hunter's Moon). The next super-duper moon of such magnitude will not occur until November 25, 2034!
But 2019 has something special in store for us: three supermoons in the row on Jan. 21, Feb. 19 and March 20. The NASA calls it "the supermoon trilogy," when three supermoons occur one after another.
Is Supermoon to Blame for the Sinking of "Titanic"?
On April 14, 1912 the British ocean liner "Titanic" collided with an iceberg and sank in 2 hours 40 minutes during his first transatlantic journey. Of 2224 people on board, 1513 died.
So what does it have to do with the moon?
Some researchers propose that the unusually close position of the moon in January 1912 could have triggered powerful oceanic tides, causing a high concentration of icebergs in the North Atlantic region.
On January 4, 1912 the moon was at its closest to the earth ("supermoon"). In fact, that supermoon was the most powerful moon in 1400 years! At the same time, the Earth was at its closest to the sun, a phenomenon known as perihelion, so the gravitational forces of both the moon and the sun were greatly enhanced prior to the tragedy (this theory is based on the findings of an American oceanographer Fergus Wood in "Tidal Dynamics: Coastal Flooding and Cycles of Gravitational Force").
So the iceberg that caused "Titanic" to sink was brought by the "super tide" of the supermoon. Or it could be just another tragic synchronicity among a myriad of "coincidences" that inexplicably conspired together to seal the ship's fate.
The Full Moon Lunacy
Do you feel any different during the full moon? Many people do. The hospitals and police stations are said to fill up with deranged and hurt people on these special days. Supermoon should amplify these effects even more.
Yet statisticians say there is no significant correlation between the full moon and erratic human behavior. But is there some correlation?
Since the moon affects the ocean and all other bodies of water, in many cultures it is considered the ruler of the water element. Human body is about 70 percent water. So you tell me...
Full moon lunacy aside, the supermoon is a unique astronomical event which you would be advised not to miss, both for its captivating beauty and the spiritual rewards it offers.
Do You Feel Any Different During the Full Moon?
Supermoon is a Potent Spiritual Time
From the Buddhist point of view, the full moon represents spiritual enlightenment.
For example, Buddha attained His Enlightenment on a full moon. For that reason it is recommended to rest and meditate during the full moon days.
Similarly, in Native American cultures full moon is considered the best time for cleansing and purification, so the sweat lodge ceremonies are often held during the full moon.
Why does the full moon have such spiritual significance? Because the moon acts as a magnifying glass. Any imbalance becomes bigger and more conspicuous. Similarly, positive attributes and talents become amplified.
Supermoon offers an even greater opportunity for enhancement. This is the time of revelation, when all that is buried deep in your psyche comes to light. This is a chance to let go of anything that doesn't serve your highest good.
Since many ancient goddesses are associated with the moon, it is also a high time to connect with the Divine Feminine. Use this opportunity to illuminate your inner God/dess.
Tips on How to Photograph the Supermoon
If you like photography and always look for opportunities to capture something special, the full moon never disappoints. Let alone the supermoon!
The view is particularly impressive when the moon had just risen above the horizon, or, conversely, is preparing to fall behind the edge of the Earth.
In those moments, it looks much larger than at the zenith. Now get your camera ready!
Here's how to take beautiful moon shots.
- You don't have to use a tripod but it really helps. Nighttime photography is tricky without it - even the slightest movement of the hands makes the image blurry. So ideally set it up somewhere so you don't have to hold it. A nit trick is to also set it up for an automatic timer picture because pressing the shutter button also causes camera shake.
- Use the telephoto lens. Again, not a necessity, but that's the difference between a stunning moon close-up and a picture of a shiny spec in the sky. You would have to use at least 300 mm photo lens.
- I know your instinct is to use the nighttime setting on your camera but that would be a mistake! It will overexpose your picture. Instead, set the manual settings to ISO 100, aperture f 11, shutter speed 1/125.
- If you're not sure which settings to use, the golden rule is: experiment! experiment! experiment! Experiment with different angles, surroundings, focus, times, concepts.Take as many pictures as you can - a few are bound to be worthwhile.
- As previously mentioned, the best time to admire the moon is soon after its rising, while it appears to be hanging low. While it's still fairly light outside, you can capture all those beautiful golden and pink hues in the sky, and whatever surroundings you choose for your supermoon shot. Later at night the darkness blots everything out and the moon appears too bright against the black backdrop, causing overexposure.
- Use a free (mostly) online photo editor like PicMonkey (or the editing software of your choice) to play with your supermoon images. PicMonkey is very easy to use, and it has a great selection of filters, effects, fonts and other editing tools. The image below took me 15 minutes to create, with only the free features. I used the water and the twinkling stars effects, and experimented with different colors.
© 2014 Lana Adler