A BIRD? A PLANE? NO, IT’S SUPERMOON!

PETALING JAYA: Gaze at the sky at dusk today and you will be with millions of others all over the world looking at a supermoon, weather permitting. The moon...

PETALING JAYA: Gaze at the sky at dusk today and you will be with millions of others all over the world looking at a supermoon, weather permitting.

The moon will be at its largest in 68 years. Miss this supermoon and you will have to wait 18 years to catch the next one.

According to the National Space Agency (Angkasa), the supermoon will happen at 7.24pm and become full at 9.54pm.

The agency’s head of space science research unit, Zahira Mohd Radzi, said it can be viewed from 7.24pm until dusk the next day from any place with good visibility of the sky.

“You see the romantic quote posted on social media that says, ‘We can stare at the same moon, even though you are far away and I am here’?

“The supermoon can be seen from everywhere, weather permitting,” Zahira told The Star.

In astronomy, the occurrence is called perigee, where the moon is nearest to Earth.

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“So the moon will be seen to be bigger, brighter and clearer,” she said.

Most notably, it will look its largest in almost seven decades because it will be at its closest to Earth in that period.

Angkasa, she said, will not be organising any public viewing event because “the weather isn’t good these days” but urged Malaysians to take the opportunity to catch the sight.

“It will not happen again for another 18 years,” she said.

The phenomenon has happened before, on May 6, 2012, June 23, 2013, Aug 10, 2014, and Sept 28, 2015, according to Angkasa.

In George Town, Penang Astronomical Society president Dr Chong Hon Yew noted that the moon will only be 356,509km from Earth, compared to the average 384,400km.

It will appear 14% bigger and some 30% brighter than normal.

“This is not to be missed because the next one will be in 2034, when it will be even closer by 64km to Earth,” he added.

Dr Chong urged the public to turn up at Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Padang Kawad in Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah between 9pm and midnight with their cameras, which can be attached to the telescopes provided.

Among the stargazers will be USM Astronomy Club president Chai Hong Xuan and vice-president Ching Jia Chuin, both 21.

They were spotted on Saturday promoting the supermoon event with Dr Chong at the Penang International Science Fair 2016 at SPICE Arena in Relau.

Chai said the club was encouraging all its 200 members to witness the spectacle, adding that they are expecting about 300 people at the field.

Engineer K.W. Loh, 44, will be there with his son, an astronomy fan.

“My son has been bugging me about it. And I am looking forward to taking a photograph of the ‘bigger’ moon and using the image as my laptop wallpaper.

“I just hope the sky will be cloud-free,” he said.

For more information, call Dr Chong at 016-315 7318, or Chai at 016-748 0919.

Members of the public can go to Angkasa’s website, Facebook page and Twitter account for more information and to share images of the supermoon.

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